Fonseka To Be Court-Martialled

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Retired Major General Sarath Fonseka will be tried over five charges under Army Act at a court martial within the next few days, Military spokesman, Major General Prasad Amarasinghe told media on Monday.

TamilNet reports that he added that the summary of evidence over charges against General Fonseka made in compliance with provisions of the Army Act was completed and handed over to Army Commander over the weekend.

The military spokesman said legal officers in the Army Directorate of Legal Services are now in the process of reviewing the contents.

They maintain that there is a prima facie case against General Fonseka on more than five charges under the Army Act.

He said that the Army Commander, in receipt of legal consultations, is expected to appoint the Court Martial for trial in the next few days.

The summary of evidence, recorded by Army Chief of Staff Major General Daya Ratnayake as appointed recording officer was completed within a period of 22 days after obtaining evidence from 35 individuals, inclusive of 22 Army personnel, 7 Police officers and 6 civilians.

TamilNet also reports that China has completed arrangements through its funding arm, Exim Bank, to provide $290 million in concessionary development loans to Sri Lanka.

$190 million of the loan is to develop a second airport in Matara and the other $100 million is to improve the railways.

China was the largest foreign funding source for Sri Lanka in 2009 with $1.2 billion, followed by the Asian Development Bank with $424 million.

The 2009 funds were allocated to build roads, coal power project in the Eastern province, and a port in Sri Lanka’s President’s electorate in Hambantota.

‘The two Concessional Loan agreements were signed during a three day visit by PB Jayasundera, Secretary to the Ministry of Finance of Sri Lanka and a delegation from the External Resources Department and Attorney General’s Department to Beijing from March 3 to 5, according to Indian media.

‘To offset the economic losses on account of the strained ties with the allies in the West, President Mahinda Rajapakse has deepened ties with Japan, India, China and Myanmar, as well as Iran,’ Indian daily Hindu said.

‘The government of China, Asian Development Bank and the World Bank were the three main donors who accounted for 1.9 billion dollars or 84.3 per cent of the total commitment in 2009,’ the Sri Lanka Finance Ministry report had said.

Japan and the Manila-based Asian Development Bank have in the past been the biggest lenders to the island, according to the Hindu.

With strained economic relations with the West on the war-crime allegations, Colombo has been openly depending on China and other countries for financial assistance.

Recently the European Union moved to terminate the GSP+ concessions that Sri Lanka enjoyed in the past several years to consolidate Sri Lanka’s position as an apparel manufacturer.

Meanwhile, a protest demonstration demanding immediate resettlement of people displaced from Valikaamam North occupied by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) as High Security Zone (HSZ) organised by the Welfare Organisations for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) on 1 March in front of Jaffna Secretariat had to be given up due to the strong opposition to it by Jaffna Government Agent (GA) K. Ganesh, the representatives of the welfare organisations said.

The GA had refused to accept the memorandum of the protestors, saying that the matter of resettlement should not be made a political issue in the context of the forthcoming parliamentary election, the organisations further alleged.

Earlier the government had announced that resettlement in Valikaamam North will be permitted in 13 Village Officer divisions.

But the IDPs who had been allowed to visit their properties during daytime are not permitted to enter the HSZ now.

Meanwhile, the government and its officials in Jaffna say that 1300 IDPs will be resettled in the HSZ but in reality the resettlement will be in the no man’s land, the welfare organizations said.

The IDPs say that this announcement is only eyewash and election propaganda, as some IDPs are already resettled in the no man’s land.

They further said that the GA has been continually requesting time to settle the issue.

They alleged that the GA has told them that the newly appointed SLA commander for Jaffna, Major. Gen. Kathurusinghe is a good person and that he will find a good solution to the issue.

In the context of the SLA refusing to enact the instructions of the Supreme Court to allow resettlement in the HSZ the attitude of the GA is seen as an act of speaking on behalf of the government, they added.

• The Sinhala nationalist party Jantha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) former parliamentarian, Anura Kumara Dissanayake has said that the JVP will oppose a new political constitution devolving powers to the Northern and Eastern provinces.

In a press briefing held in Colombo on Tuesday he said: ‘Minister G. L. Peiris recently said that the government intends implementing its newly drafted political constitution following the parliamentary elections and I call upon the government to make public this new political constitution.’

He added that the JVP will never permit the country to be divided.

Anura Kumara further said that Sri Lanka has been forced into creating this new political constitution due to pressure from the Government of India and that India’s Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao had come to Sri Lanka recently to ensure the creation of the new political constitution.

It had been decided to remove the Army High Security Zones (HSZ) in the North during the talks between Ranil Wickremasinghe’s government and Liberation Tigers, and G. L. Peiris had ordered the then Army Commander Sarath Fonseka to do so, Anura Kumara said.

But Sarath Fonseka had rejected the order and that is why G. L. Pieris is so opposed to Sarath Fonseka, he added.

He further said that Sarath Fonseka had been arrested on false accusations and that the Western powers are forcing the government to release him.

JVP is contesting the forthcoming parliamentary elections as part of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) headed by Sarath Fonseka.