Sri Lankan court orders better prison conditions for ex-army chief

Thursday, November 18, 2010

COLOMBO - A Sri Lankan court Thursday ordered officials to improve prison conditions for the country’s former army chief after Sarath Fonseka’s lawyer complained his prison cell was leaking during rains and the ex-general had fallen ill as a result.

Fonseka, who is serving a 30-month jail term at the Welikada high-security prison in Colombo, was transferred to hospital after he suffered a lung infection, his lawyer said.

“The ex-army chief was forced to sweep out the rainwater throughout the night after the roof started leaking Tuesday night,” Nalin Ladduwahetti told the court.

He argued that Fonseka’s health was at constant risk because of the effects of internal injuries he suffered in a suicide attack by an ethnic Tamil rebel in 2006.

Fonseka was found guilty by a military tribunal of favouring his son-in-law in awarding military contracts.

He was also due to stand trial before the High Court for telling a newspaper that Tamil rebels surrendering in 2009 in the final weeks of the civil war were ordered to be shot by Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The

government has denied the allegation.

He also faces two more cases in civil courts, one on charges of conspiracy against the government and the other on the same charges for which he has been already sentenced by the military tribunal.

The former army chief was in charge of military operations against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam before the separatist rebels were defeated in May last year.

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