Page last updated at 18:01 GMT, Friday, 26 February 2010

Sri Lanka army officers remanded over 'coup plot'

Soldiers outside Gen Fonseka's hotel in Colombo following his election defeat
Many military supporters of the opposition have been arrrested

A Sri Lankan court has ordered that six army officers suspected of plotting to overthrow the government should remain in custody.

The officers appeared before Colombo Chief Magistrate Champa Janaki Rajaratne on Friday.

The government has accused one of the suspects of being involved in the assassination of Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickramathunga last year.

The six are all sympathetic to detained opposition leader Gen Sarath Fonseka.

He lost presidential elections in January to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and now faces possible military and civilian charges.

Accusations rejected

The authorities accuse Gen Fonseka of having worked with what they call anti-government forces, but no specific charges against him have been brought.

In a joint statement to the magistrate on Friday, all six suspects rejected the accusations against them and denied being involved in any crime.

Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) officials told the court that it was essential to keep them in custody while their investigations continued.

The court remanded the six until 26 March.

At least 53 supporters of Gen Fonseka, many of them serving or retired military officials, were arrested by police after he lost the 26 January presidential election.

The courts have released at least 23 of them.

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