The former head of Sri Lanka’s armed forces has been reinstated as an army general by the country’s new government after being jailed and isolated under the previous leadership.
In 2010, Sarath Fonseka was sentenced by a military court to 30 months in jail and denied his political rights for “irregular procurements” during his time in charge of the army.
A previous court-martial had stripped him of his title of general and deprived him of his pension for “dabbling in politics.”
Fonseka, who led government forces to a decisive victory over Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009 following a bloody civil war, had fallen out of favor with previous president, Mahinda Rajapaksa and his powerful brother, Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
That split came after Fonseka unsuccessfully challenged Rajapaksa in early 2010 presidential elections.
He was eventually pardoned by President Rajapaksa and freed in 2012 – but he remained sidelined.
Fonseka returned to the public eye in the past few months campaigning for Maithripala Sirisena, who swept to the presidency earlier this month. Sirisena has pledged to “rehabilitate” the country’s most prominent military figure.
Full presidential pardon
A statement on the Presidential Secretariat’s official website read:
“Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka has been fully pardoned by President Maithripala Sirisena.
The former Army general who led the decisive war against the LTTE to end the terrorism in Sri Lanka was stripped off of his ranks and rights by the previous government.
Fonseka has been acquitted of all charges filed against him under the previous Government and has been granted complete amnesty by President Maithripala Sirisena.
President Sirisena pardoned the former General by the powers vested in him under Article 34 of the Constitution.
Accordingly, Fonseka’s rank will be restored and will be entitled to all military and social privileges without any legal barrier. He will be awarded back his medals and honors.”