Sri Lanka army’s ex-chief loses appeal over parliamentary seat

January 25, 2011 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s jailed former army chief Sarath Fonseka, who tried to unseat the president in elections, on Tuesday lost an appeal to retain his parliamentary seat. The Supreme Court ruled that a court martial verdict in September finding him guilty of arms procurement offences meant that he was no longer qualified to be a member of parliament.

Fonseka led the army to victory over the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009, ending decades of bloody ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.

But he then fell out with the government and unsuccessfully tried to oust Mahinda Rajapakse in January 2010 presidential election.

After being jailed, he won a seat in the following parliamentary elections which were won by Rajapakse’s party.

“The supreme court ruled that the court martial is recognised by the constitution,” a court official said.

Fonseka was arrested two weeks after his defeat in the presidential elections and is serving a 30-month jail term.

He has said the government is seeking revenge for his decision to stand against the president. Fonseka has also angered the government by saying he would testify before any international war crimes trib