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Monday, 31 July, 2000, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
Sri Lankan general too ill for trial
Sri Lankan army generals with President Kumaratunga
The army was involved in putting down a revolt in the 1980s
By Alastair Lawson in Colombo

A retired general accused of torture and murder in Sri Lanka has been unable to attend court proceedings on Monday because of ill health.

Lawyers acting on behalf of Major-General Ananda Weerasekera failed to win bail for their client, who is accused of presiding over a spate of disappearances during the army's suppression of a left-wing uprising in the late 1980s.

Heavy security surrounded the magistrates' court in Anuradapura, where General Weerasekera was due to face charges of murder and torture.

The court was so crowded that the public was forced to view the proceedings through open windows.

But the chief magistrate was told by the general's lawyers that he was too sick to attend court.

They said that the general is currently receiving treatment for a stomach condition in prison hospital.

Custody

The chief magistrate refused a bail application for the general, remanding him in custody until 15th August.

His lawyers said after the hearing that they intend to file another bail application in Anuradapura High Court on Wednesday.

They say that they will also file a rights petition on behalf of the general in the supreme court in Colombo.

Two sergeants who are co-accused with the general did appear in court on Monday.

They were also refused bail.

'Innocent'

General Weerasekera's two sons, Suraj and Manoj, were in court today.

Outside, they vigorously protested their father's innocence.

He's alleged to have committed the crimes against Marxist JVP rebels in the late 1980s.

Human rights groups estimate that around sixty thousand people died during the uprising.

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See also:

21 Jul 00 | South Asia
Sri Lankan general charged
20 May 00 | South Asia
Tigers attack Jaffna harbour
26 Apr 00 | South Asia
Sri Lanka army 'blocking medicines'
08 Apr 00 | South Asia
Rebels sink Sri Lankan gunboats
15 May 00 | South Asia
Civilians killed in Jaffna shelling
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