Sri Lanka opposition parties stage protest demanding release of former Army Commander

Feb 08, Colombo: Hundreds of activists of Sri Lanka’s main opposition political parties joined together in capital Colombo to stage a protest today, to demand the government to release the imprisoned former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka.

The People’s Movement for Democracy in Sri Lanka has organized the protest to mark the two year anniversary of Fonseka’s imprisonment.

The protesters including members of main opposition United National Party (UNP) and the Marxist party Democratic National Alliance, of which Fonseka was the leader, gathered at the Hultsdorf Court Complex where Fonseka’s appeal against the verdict of the White Flag case was to be heard today.

The Colombo Magistrate Court has earlier has given an order to the police to control any tense situations that may arise due to the protest and disrupt the court proceeding during the hearing at the Supreme Court.

The protesters have staged a march to the Welikada Prison when prison officials have taken Fonseka directly to the Welikada Prison from the courts without taking him for his medical checkup.

Local media reports citing his wife Anoma Fonseka said the former Army chief has begun a hunger strike at Welikada prison for not taking him for the scheduled medical checkup after the court proceeding.

Fonseka has later called off the fast when the prison officials agreed to take him for his checkup, Daily Mirror reported.

The five-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake has meanwhile postponed the hearing of the appeal against the White Flag case verdict to 2nd and 3rd of May.

Fonseka, who contested the last presidential election as the common opposition candidate, was arrested on February 8, 2010 and court martial action was initiated against him. Several cases were also filed in the civil courts over alleged irregularities by him while in the Army and for conspiring against the government.

He is currently serving a 30-month prison term, imposed by a court martial last year after finding him guilty of four charges related to alleged irregularities in military procurements during his tenure as Army Chief, and a three-year term after having found guilty of the White Flag case by a civil court for inciting violence .

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