May 21st, 2012
05:12 AM ET

Sri Lanka orders release of jailed former army leader Fonseka

The Sri Lankan authorities on Monday set in motion the release of Sarath Fonseka, the former head of the country's armed forces who had been in prison since 2010, a senior government official said.

A letter rescinding Fonseka's sentence, issued by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is being sent to the prison authorities, said Justice Secretary Kamalini de Silva.

Under the Sri Lankan constitution, the president is empowered to pardon "any offender convicted of any offense in any court of Sri Lanka."

Rajapaksa had signed an order and placed it with the Justice Ministry before he flew to Doha to attend the Qatar Forum, according to his spokesperson Bandula Jayasekera.

Fonseka, who led troops to victory over Tamil Tiger rebels exactly three years ago this week, had fallen out of favor with Rajapaksa and his powerful brother, Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

That split came after Fonseka unsuccessfully challenged Rajapaksa at presidential elections in early 2010.

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  1. Aruna Jayalath

    Forty years experience of Gen. Sarath Fonseka as a soldier can unite all opposition parties of Sri Lanka to a common leadership and then further grow our island nation.

    May 21, 2012 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |