Fonseka: ‘I will never give up’, claims Channel 4

Fonseka: ‘I will never give up’, claims Channel 4

March 17, 2010   12:09 am

Exclusive: Former army commander General Sarath Fonseka tells Channel 4 News from his Sri Lanka prison cell that he is being set up, and claims the charges he faces in a military court are bogus.


Sri Lanka’s former army commander, who is facing two separate courts martial in Colombo, has told Channel 4 News that he has been set up and that the charges he is facing are bogus.


His handwritten answers were smuggled out of Sri Lankan Naval Headquarters, where General Sarath Fonseka is being held.


“None of the accusations are true,” said the general, who retired from the army to run in presidential elections against the incumbent, Mahinda Rajapaksa.


General Fonseka lost the January election by 1.8 million votes and was arrested last month and charged with corruption and engaging in politics while in uniform.


“He is jealous of me as I got more votes than him although he rigged he knows that I can challenge him [sic],” the general wrote, adding that he believed he was being held illegally and that his life remains at risk.


“But I will never give up exposing rogue president for sake of country,” he said.


Both men were credited with ending the 30-year civil war against Tamil insurgents in May last year and both have traded politically on war hero status. General Fonseka is Sri Lanka’s most-decorated soldier but he was branded a traitor for standing against his Commander-in-Chief.


“I hope the people of this country have realised that this rogue president stole their victory on last presidential election,” the general told Channel 4 News.


“They also must realise that this president behaving exactly like the Idi Amin.”


The former army chief appeared before a military court on Tuesday as thousands of his supporters protested in the capital, Colombo.


His court martial on charges of engaging in politics while still in the army was adjourned until 6 April 2010.


But Fonseka is due to appear at another military court hearing tomorrow (Wednesday) to face charges that he unfairly granted an arms contract to a company run by his son-in-law in the United States. Fonseka has challenged his arrest in the Supreme Court and a hearing has been set for 26 April.


Today one of the General’s lawyers said he “is not either pleading guilty or not guilty because the court has no power to hear and try these charges.”


They say that he retired from the army in July last year and could not therefore be arrested under military law.


Interviewed by Channel 4 News, the general’s wife, Anoma Fonseka, said the victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam guerrillas was made possible by the relationship between her husband and the president. “Without their friendship they couldn’t have won the war,” she said.


Mrs. Fonseka denied that the general was intending to launch a coup d’etat against his former friend. Asked whether she was living in fear for her life she replied:  “Actually, not my life, but my husband’s life, yes. I am very scared for him.”


Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is defence secretary and the president’s brother, has been accused of complicity in war crimes by General Fonseka.


The administration appears to fear what the general may say if he is asked to testify at any future war crimes hearings.


The defence secretary holds joint American citizenship and the general is a USgreen card holder.


From his guarded quarters inside Naval HQ, General Fonseka told Channel 4 News: “I will only celebrate the day I expose this rogue president to the country and to the world and bring the people of this country peace free of thuggery and political violence and bring real democracy to the country and stop corruption in the country.” – (Jonathan Miller for Channel 4)

Pictured is a diagram which Channel 4 claims that Fonseka had drawn of his place of detention.

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