The new government in Sri Lanka last Wednesday (21) exonerated former army chief Sarath Fonseka of all charges, including treason, filed by former president Mahinda Rajapakse, and restored his rank and medals.
The allegations were framed after the general mounted a failed bid to unseat Rajapakse at his January 2010 re-election.
Fonseka led troops to victory over the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009, but then fell out with Rajapakse over who deserved the credit.
The decorated general was stripped of his rank, pension and medals collected in a 40-year career. He spent two years in jail and lost the right to contest elections for seven years.
The United States considered Fonseka a political prisoner and campaigned for his unconditional release which eventually came in May 2012.
However, his rights were not restored, keeping him away from politics.
President Maithripala Sirisena, who was backed by Fonseka in the run-up to the January 8 elections, granted him a pardon last week. He completely exonerated Fonseka of previous convictions as well as pending charges of treason.
“In line with the pardon, General Fonseka gets back his civic rights and he is now free to contest elections,” an official at the president’s office said.
After his 2010 poll defeat, Fonseka was detained on a charge of corruption relating to military procurements and given a 30- month jail sentence.
In November 2011, he was sentenced to three more years in jail for saying Tiger militants who surrendered had been killed on the orders of Rajapakse’s brother Gotabhaya Rajapakse, the then defence secretary.
Fonseka had also angered the government by saying he would testify before any international tribunal probing possible war crimes charges.
Sri Lanka has denied any civilians were killed by its troops at the climax of the 37-year war in 2009.