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Former Sri Lanka army chief to appeal conviction

Former Sri Lankan army chief Sarath Fonseka [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] said Thursday that he will appeal his recent conviction [JURIST report] on charges of engaging in politics while on active duty, but that he has no faith in the government, which he called a dictatorship. Fonseka, who remains in custody, stated that he has no faith in the judiciary and that he expects to be jailed [The Hindu report] following a second court-martial investigating army purchasing irregularities during his time as general of the army. He also called the court-martials a sham and indicated that he does not expect his appeal to be successful, but that he would proceed with the appeal [AP report] to prevent the government from considering it an admission of guilt. The court-martial that concluded last week sentenced Fonseka to a dishonorable discharge. He was stripped of his rank and medals on Saturday after Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa [official profile; JURIST news archive] ratified the decision. The second court-martial is expected to begin [AFP report] on Saturday.

Fonseka is also fighting charges in the High Court of Sri Lanka for allegedly provoking violence and bringing disrepute to the government [JURIST report] in relation to statements made to the Sunday Leader [media website] newspaper. Fonseka suggested that the government of Rajapaksa ordered the killing of surrendering rebel leaders during the Sri Lankan civil war [JURIST news archive]. In April, Fonseka's trials were postponed [JURIST report] to allow the Court of Appeals of Sri Lanka [official website] to examine the legality of the court-martials.

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