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Wife pleads for Sri Lankan Gen Sarath Fonseka's release

Anoma Fonseka - 9 February 2010
Anoma Fonseka said her husband had been "treated like an animal"

The wife of the arrested former presidential contender, Gen Sarath Fonseka, has pleaded with the Sri Lankan government to release him.

Earlier a tearful Anoma Fonseka told reporters hat her husband had been "abducted" and that she needed to give essential medication to him.

Mrs Fonseka says that she has now been told where he is being held but she has not been able to see him.

Gen Fonseka was detained by security forces at his office on Monday.

The government says he will be court-martialled for "military offences".

'Hell-bent'

Gen Fonseka was defeated by incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa in last month's poll.

President Rajapaksa won about six million votes to Gen Fonseka's four million. But the general rejected the results and vowed to challenge them in court.

A worker drinks from a water bottle at a Fonseka campaign office  - 8 Feb 2010
Gen Fonseka's presidential bid was unsuccessful

In an official statement, the government said that the former army chief was "hell-bent" on betraying the country's "gallant armed forces".

It cited as evidence the general's remarks on Monday that he would be ready to give evidence in an international court on war crimes charges against the state.

Defence spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said that depending on the evidence being gathered against Gen Fonseka, he might be liable to a court-martial.

He alleged that by meeting opposition politicians while still in uniform, the general might have committed "treason to some extent".

The government says that Gen Fonseka is still subject to military law, despite his retirement.

Gen Fonseka has denied any wrongdoing. His wife earlier accused the security forces of treating him "like an animal" as they dragged him into a vehicle by his hands and feet.

But military spokesman Maj Gen Prasad Samarasinghe told the Associated Press news agency that family members were allowed to see him and he had been allowed to obtain legal advice.

Civil war victory

Opposition politicians say the government is engaged in a witch-hunt and they have promised to hold protests on Wednesday against the arrest, which the BBC's Charles Haviland in Colombo says has left many people in a state of bewilderment.

Gen Fonseka was in charge of Sri Lanka's army when it defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels last year after 25 years of civil war.

But he and President Rajapaksa fell out over who should take credit for the victory - and both fought the election boasting of their roles in the war.

Our correspondent says the arrest was dramatic but not unexpected - and there must now be questions about whether this is the start of a bigger clampdown on the opposition.



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MENAFN Sri Lanka's Parliament dissolved - 10 hrs ago
Financial TimesSri Lanka president dissolves parliament - 11 hrs ago
Cape TimesSri Lankan presidential candidate cut off from family after his arrest - 11 hrs ago
CHINAdaily Held general 'hell-bent' on betrayal - 14 hrs ago
Guardian.co.uk Sri Lanka's president Mahinda Rajapaksa dissolves parliament - 22 hrs ago
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