Sri Lanka former top judge slams opposition leader arrest

NEW DELHI, March 15, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s former chief justice slammed the arrest of ex-army chief and opposition leader Sarath Fonseka on Monday on the eve of his court martial, saying there was “no democracy” in the country. Retired chief justice Sarath Silva criticised the treatment of Fonseka, who challenged President Mahinda Rajapakse at January elections, as hundreds of supporters of the ex-army boss demonstrated in Colombo.

“In my view, there is no democracy since there is no room for dissent,” Silva told reporters. “There is no freedom of expression. The arrest and detention of General Sarath Fonseka is against the constitution.”

Silva, who retired as the head of the Supreme Court last June, supported Fonseka’s bid for the presidency after accusing Rajapakse of failing to uphold the constitution.

Fonseka and the president were allies in the crushing of Tamil Tiger rebels last May, which ended their 37-year separatist struggle that left up to 100,000 people dead according to a UN estimate.

Ahead of Fonseka’s court martial, his Democratic National Alliance (DNA) party has said he will not cooperate with the closed-door proceedings at naval headquarters in the capital.

The demonstrations i