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Ex-army chief expected to lose his parliamentary seat with jail term

Sep 30, 2010 6:10:41 AM- transcurrents.com

from BBC News online

Sri Lanka's president has endorsed the 30-month jail term of former army chief Sarath Fonseka, an official in the president's office has told the BBC.

Mr Fonseka was found guilty of breaching arms procurement guidelines on 17 September by a military court.

Last month, the MP was stripped of his rank and pension after being convicted of engaging in politics while in uniform. He denied all the charges.

Mr Fonseka led troops to victory last year over the Tamil Tigers.

But he fell out with the president when he stood unsuccessfully against him in polls.

"President Mahinda Rajapakse has approved the prison sentence for a period of two-and-a-half years after returning Wednesday from New York after attending the UN General Assembly," the presidential official said.

As the case had been handled by a military court, the sentence had to be approved by President Rajapaksa, as commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

With the jail term, Mr Fonseka is expected to lose his parliamentary seat.

The former four-star general and his supporters say the cases against him are politically motivated.

He was arrested two weeks after his defeat in January's presidential elections and has remained in military custody since.

He has been allowed to leave jail under military escort to attend parliament since April, when he was elected an MP for the opposition Democratic National Alliance (DNA).

He was hailed as a war hero by the majority Sinhalese community in May last year after he led the army to defeat the Tamil Tiger separatists, bringing an end to 26 years of civil war. - courtesy: BBC News -