Colombo : Sri Lanka's war hero and former Army chief Sarath Fonseka will approach a civilian court to seek the overturning of a military court's verdict that stripped him of his rank, pension and medals, his political alliance announced on Sunday. Anura Kumara Dissanayake, spokesman of the Fonseka-led Democratic National Alliance (DNA) said his side will appeal against the verdict and seek restoration of the former Army chief's prestige.
"We will go to the Court of Appeal. We will mobilise public support and protest against the decision," Dissanayake said, a day after President Mahinda Rajapaksa approved a court martial's verdict on Fonseka. The 59-year-old former Army Chief, who is also a parliamentarian, was convicted by a court martial for dabbling into politics while in active service. The court ordered that Fonseka be stripped off his rank, pension and medals -- a decision that was ratified by Rajapaksa. "There have been instances in the country when civil courts have overturned decisions of military courts," said Dissayanayake.
Fonseka, who is in custody since his arrest in January after his loss to Rajapaksa in the presidential election, faces another court martial on charges of corruption in defence deals. Fonseka, who was once close to the President, fell out with him in the last days of the war, and later challenged him in the presidential election. The opposition has called the targeting of Fonseka by the Rajapaksa government as political witch-hunting. The ex-general has termed his dishonourable discharge as a "joke". In comments forwarded through his wife Anoma, the only four star general of the island nation said, the verdict was handed down by lower ranking military officials, which was not the practice in military. "It is unacceptable and a humorous joke," Fonseka was quoted as saying by his wife, after Rajapaksa stripped him of his decorations and pension. Dissanayaka said his organisation did not accept the ruling as it was handed out when non of the defence lawyers were present. PTI