Sri Lanka ex-chief justice criticizes military trial for detained opposition leader

[JURIST] The former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka [JURIST news archive] on Monday criticized the government's treatment of detained opposition leader General Sarath Fonseka [BBC profile]. Sarath Nanda Silva, who retired from the Sri Lankan Supreme Court last year, accused [AFP report] the government of using the military justice system to prevent Fonseka from participating in the upcoming elections scheduled for April 8, and of violating Fonseka's civil rights. Silva's charge implicates Fonseka's presence in the military, rather than civilian system, which he says provides no recourse for Fonseka. Silva also said that Fonseka's arrest was made in violation of the country's constitution [text]. The military has charged Fonseka with mixing politics with the military, and improperly awarding procurement contracts. Fonseka's court-martial hearing begins on Tuesday [BBC report]. Fonseka is also scheduled for a hearing before the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka on April 26, where he will challenge his detention.

Also Monday, Sri Lanka criticized [Reuters report] a US State Department report [JURIST report], released last week, which accused Sri Lanka of violating its citizens' civil rights. Last month, the Sri Lankan Supreme Court rejected a petition to release Fonseka, who was taken into custody [JURIST reports] in early February. Also in February, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa [official profile], who defeated Fonseka in the January election, dissolved parliament and called for early parliamentary elections [JURIST report] in an attempt to harness momentum from his victory to gain more seats in parliament for his political party, Freedom Alliance. The Sri Lankan Supreme Court ruled last month that Rajapaksa's second term [JURIST report] will begin in November. Fonseka has disputed [Al Jazeera report] the election results, citing vote counting irregularities and violence.

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.