By Dianne Silva
Sri Lanka will not pursue the matter of Norway and the United States allegedly supporting the campaign of former Opposition Common candidate General Sarath Fonseka, as claimed by Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, beyond the rejections by the respective embassies.
“We have received rejections by both the Norwegian and American embassies and won’t pursue the matter any further,” Minister of Foreign Affairs told Daily Mirror Online.
The US and Norway on Thursday strongly denied claims raised by Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse that both countries had funded the election campaign of former Presidential candidate Fonseka.
“Norway has never and will never interfere with other countries’ elections or in any way try to undermine or oust a democratically elected government and president”, the Norwegian Embassy said in a statement.
Similarly the Embassy of the United States in a press release stated that there was “no truth to the Sri Lankan Defense Secretary’s claims that the U.S. provided financial support to the opposition candidate in Sri Lanka’s presidential election.”
Meanwhile, the Foreign Minister briefed the Diplomatic community on Thursday on the government’s decision to arrest General Fonseka. “The Government had very strong reasons to apprehend that Gen. Fonseka had acted in a manner prejudicial to the responsibilities of the senior posts he held during his service as a military officer,” he told Diplomats.
The Minister had emphasized that the Military act under which the General was being prosecuted was inline with British military law. “The Army Act No.17 of 1949 was enacted about 1 ½ years after we gained Independence at the point we were establishing what was then known as the Ceylon Army, it was therefore natural that the structure and concepts behind our Army, including the provisions of the Act governing its setting up, should be modeled very much on the lines of British military law,” he said.
The Minister thereafter elaborated on the legal provisions available to the General. “At the time of the arrest, the alleged offences were read to the defendant. As the investigation proceeds, a Summary of Evidence will be recorded, on the basis of all witnesses having to make their Statements of Evidence under oath. After the recording of evidence of each witness, the Statement would be read over to him and his signature would be obtained.
The defendant has the right to be present when the Summary of Evidence is recorded on a basic Charge Sheet. He also has the entitlement of cross-examining all of the witnesses. As a further safeguard, the defendant is cautioned that he has the right to make a Statement or to remain silent. He is also entitled to call witnesses to give evidence on his behalf.
At the end of the Summary, the officer recording the Summary of Evidence is obliged to state that he has adhered to all of the provisions laid down in the Disciplinary Regulations of 1950. The Summary of Evidence then constitutes the basis of determining whether a prima-facie case prevails for the continuation of the process or not. If there is a prima-facie case, the final Charge Sheet would be framed according to the evidence that has been established. A copy of the Convening Order, a copy of the Charge Sheet, a copy of the Summary of Evidence and a list of witnesses would be issued to the defendant, prior to commencement of the Court Martial.
It is important to note that the defendant has the right to retain any number of lawyers of his absolute choice to defend himself during the Court Martial proceedings. The Court Martial itself is governed by the Disciplinary Regulations of 1950 and the Court Martial Regulations of 1950, promulgated under Section 155 of the Army Act,” he explained.