Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka was today sentenced to three years in jail and fined Rs.5000 in a two-one split verdict delivered in the white flag case with two judges finding him guilty on one of the charges while one of the judges acquitted him on all three charges.
The judgement was read out to a packed High Court at the Trial-at-Bar.
High Court judges Deepali Wijesundera (President) and M.Z. Razeen found Mr. Fonseka guilty on the first count and acquitted him from the other two charges while Judge W.M.P.B. Warawewa found him not guilty on all charges.
In view of Mr. Fonseka being found guilty on the first charge he was sentenced to three years imprisonment with a fine of Rs.5,000. In the event the fine is not paid he will have to serve an additional six months in jail.
Mr. Fonseka was indicted before the Colombo High Court on charges of having made a false statement to Sunday Leader Editor Frederica Jansz on December 8, 2009 at his election office in an attempt to generate ill feelings among the people by alleging that Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa ordered Brigadier Shavendra Silva of the 58th battalion to shoot LTTE leaders who surrendered to the forces.
He was acquitted of the charge of directly or indirectly procuring information to excite dissatisfaction or to promote hatred and cause ill-will and hostility among the people and on the third charge of attempting to excite discontent or dissatisfaction among Sri Lankans against the State.
Senior Counsel Nalin Ladduwahetty requested court that in passing judgement to consider Mr. Fonseka’s 44 years of military service and having endangered his life for the sake of the country thrice as well as being a person who toiled to eradicate LTTE terrorism.
Mr. Fonseka was the common opposition candidate at last year’s presidential election and is serving a 30-month prison term after a court martial convicted him on corruption charges.
The retired Four-Star General led the army to its 2009 victory over the LTTE thus ending the country’s 30-year separatist conflict. (T.Farook Thajudeen