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Former Sri Lanka army chief sentenced to 3 more years

November 18, 2011 |  5:05 am

REPORTING FROM NEW DELHI -- A Sri Lankan court Friday sentenced former army chief Sarath Fonseka to an additional three years in prison for allegedly implicating the defense secretary in war crimes in the final weeks of the quarter-century-long civil war with the separatist Tamil Tigers that ended in 2009.

Fonseka was quoted in an interview with a weekly newspaper as saying that the nation’s top defense official and president’s brother, Gotabhaya Rajapakse, had ordered field commanders to execute Tamil rebels as they waved white flags in surrender.

“I think for an army chief to enter the political arena so soon after serving has landed him in trouble,” said G. Parthasarathy, an analyst with New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research and former national advisor on Sri Lanka.  

Fonseka, already serving 30 months on charges of fraud and engaging in political activity while still in the military, claimed he was misquoted. He’s faced several charges since deciding to run against President Mahinda Rajapaksa in last year’s election and says they’re politically motivated. His latest conviction on charges of "spreading rumors and causing public disorder" during a period of national emergency carried a maximum 20-year prison sentence.


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-- Mark Magnier

Photo: Sri Lanka's former army chief, Sarath Fonseka, waves to supporters Friday as he arrives at the Colombo High Court in Colombo. Credit: Ishara S.Kodikara / AFP/Getty Images