February 23, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court refused Tuesday to order the release of detained opposition leader and former army chief Sarath Fonseka as it deliberates a petition challenging his arrest by the military.
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As the battlefield architect of the victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels last May, Fonseka had been hailed as a national hero for finally crushing their 37-year campaign for an independent Tamil homeland. Fonseka, 59, has been held at a naval detention centre since his arrest on February 8, sparking international condemnation and violent protests two weeks after he was trounced in presidential polls by President Mahinda Rajapakse.
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“The request for interim relief by way of his release was rejected but the court said immediate family and lawyers can visit him,” a court official said.
A further hearing has been scheduled for April 26.
Fonseka’s wife had filed a petition challenging the legality of his detention, and asking the court to order his immediate release pending a judgement.
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Tuesday’s ruling means he will remain in custody until the court makes a final ruling.
The government has yet to specify the charges Fonseka will face, but Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse –