India urges fair trial for Sri Lankan ex-army chief

NEW DELHI, February 11, 2010 (AFP) – India urged Sri Lanka on Thursday to follow “due process” in its prosecution of Sri Lanka’s former army chief and defeated presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka. “As a friend and neighbour, we trust that due processes of law will be observed in democratic Sri Lanka in this matter,” the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Several western countries and human rights groups have objected to the fact that Fonseka is to be court-martialled rather than tried in a civilian court.

India wields considerable diplomatic influence over Sri Lanka, whose 12.5 percent minority Tamil community has close links with million of Tamils in India’s Tamil Nadu state.

Fonseka was arrested on Monday — just weeks after his failed bid to unseat his former commander-in-chief, President Mahinda Rajapakse, at the ballot box.

He is being detained at a naval detention centre where he is currently awaiting court martial for conspiring against the government.

Rajapakse won the January 26 presidential poll with a comfortable 58 percent of the popular vote.

Colombo has yet to specify the charges Fonseka will face, but Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapa