Former Sri Lankan army chief Sarath Fonseka [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] was freed from prison Monday after being pardoned by President Mahinda Rajapaksa [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Fonseka, who is credited with bringing an end to the 26-year civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), was arrested [JURIST report] shortly after his defeat in the January 2009 presidential election in which he ran against Rajapaksa. He was convicted on corruption charges [JURIST report] in 2010 and sentenced to 30 months in prison. He was sentenced in November to an additional three years in prison [JURIST report] for implicating his country's defense secretary in war crimes at the end of the civil war. The pardon and release came amid international pressure [AP report], with US officials calling Fonseka a political prisoner.
The Sri Lankan government has faced various allegations of human rights violations and war crimes by civil rights organizations and the UN since the end of its civil war in 2009. In November the Sri Lankan government was subjected to criticism for its failure to investigate [JURIST report] issues of torture for past human rights violations and to enforce laws against continued torture and ill-treatment by government officials against civilians. In April 2011 a UN panel of experts on Sri Lanka found credible allegations of war crimes [JURIST report] committed during the country's war with the LTTE, warranting further investigation. In June 2010 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] called for an international inquiry [JURIST report] into the conduct of the Sri Lankan government during its civil war.