- SF To The ‘S’ Ward
By Vimukthi Yapa
A once decorated war hero and presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka is now confined to a 12ft x 8ft cell with a toilet with no door, a stool, mat and pillow. Lit by two florescent lights the room, known as the ‘S’ Ward has only one barred window for ventilation. A wooden door with a lock – with two stationary guards – seals Fonseka for the next 30 months – for now- from the outside world.
“He does not have even a table to sit and eat at,” an emotional Tiran Alles MP, DNA told The Sunday Leader, adding, “there had been a bed in the cell which was removed and replaced with a mat, before he was brought.”
Fonseka on seeing his “new abode” for the next 30 months according to Alles had been speechless.
A mere sixteen months since Fonseka led a decisive victory against Tamil Tigers he has been stripped of his medals, rank, pension and his civic rights.
On the heels of Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa being quoted in newspapers Friday that Fonseka’s sentence ratified by President Mahinda Rajapaksa could be reviewed if he appealed, both Alles and Anoma Fonseka shot down the possibility of the former Army General seeking a pardon. What should he ask for a pardon?” asked Mrs. Fonseka. Should he apologize for winning the war and defeating terrorism or for contesting a presidential election and seeking the peoples mandate?
Sarath Chandralal Fonseka, as Commander of the Army, played a crucial role in ending the 26 year Sri Lankan Civil War in 2009, defeating the militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the process.
He later had a public falling out with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and unsuccessfully challenged Rajapaksa in the 2010 presidential election.
Fonseka joined the Sri Lanka Army in 1970 and saw extensive action throughout the 26 year civil war, culminating in a term as Commander of the Army from December 6, 2005 – July 15, 2009. As commander, he oversaw the final phase of the Sri Lankan Civil War, which resulted in the total defeat of the militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. He also survived an assassination attempt when an LTTE suicide bomber attacked his motorcade in April 2006. Following the end of the war Fonseka was promoted to a four star rank in the Sri Lanka Army, becoming the first serving officer to hold that rank. His successful led the Indian National Security Advisor Kelath Narayanan to describe him as the “best army commander in the world.