Two weeks after his election defeat, Fonseka was detained on a charge of corruption
SARATH Fonseka could be free “within days” after Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse held talks on Wednesday (May 16) with the jailed former army chief’s political party, officials said.
Fonseka fell out with the government over who should take credit for winning the separatist war against the Tamil Tiger rebels and he lost the 2010 presidential election to Rajapakse after quitting the army.
Two weeks after his election defeat, Fonseka was detained on a charge of corruption relating to military procurements. He was given a 30-month jail sentence in September 2010.
Rajapakse met members of Fonseka’s Democratic National Alliance (DNA) party to discuss the terms of his release, DNA legislator Tiran Alles told reporters.
“There are a few issues which are still being discussed,” he said. “We are hopeful we can secure a release very soon.”
An official from Rajapakse’s office declined to discuss details, but said Fonseka could be released “within days”.
The moves come ahead of talks later this week between Sri Lanka’s foreign minister G L Peiris and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington.
The US has been critical of Sri Lanka’s human rights record during the final stages of the civil war, which ended with victory for government forces in May 2009. Washington has repeatedly urged Colombo to release Fonseka.
In November, Fonseka was sentenced to three more years in jail for saying that Tiger rebels who surrendered had been killed on the orders of the president’s brother Gotabhaya Rajapakse, who is defence secretary.
Fonseka has also angered the government by saying he would testify before any international tribunal probing possible war crimes charges after the UN said thousands of civilians were killed in the last months of fighting.
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