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Arrest of Sarath Fonseka:

Opposition playing politics

BBC interview dangerous to country’s integrity:

*Forces have right to question:

*Fonseka not denied visits:

Mass Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene addressing a media conference at the Ministry yesterday morning blamed the Opposition for trying to politicize the arrest of former Army Commander by the Military Police on certain allegations relating to violation of Army Rules, under the Army Act, Clause 57(1).

These allegations include involvement in politics while serving in the Army, conspiring against the Commander in Chief, Protection of over 1,000 Army deserters and for allegations of corruption in the purchase of military equipment.

Under the Army Act, they have the right to take such action and the media in the national interest should enlighten the masses about this matter without letting the politicians to distort the issue to gain political mileage over it, he said.

The Minister pointed out that the statement made by Sarath Fonseka to the BBC, a day before his arrest, was very dangerous to the integrity of the country at the international level.

In this statement, he has stated that he would definitely reveal about all who were involved in war crimes and he would not save anyone.

The Minister said that the Security Forces have a right to question him on these dangerous pronouncements.

Minister Yapa explained that it is totally wrong and misleading to say that the Government has arrested Fonseka and reports published saying that Fonseka is being denied visits by outsiders, his family members and not given his medicine have been proved wrong by visits made by his wife and some others.

Referring to the allegation made by UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake that Fonseka had been arrested to prevent him signing the election petition that they plan to submit, Minister Yapa pointed that the statement shows the lack of procedure by Attanayake and as there are instances of people contesting election from being imprisoned there is no obstruction to get Fonseka’s signature when he is in custody.

The Minister said if Attanayake wants, the Government is ready to get it done for him on his behalf.

Minister Yapa also dispelled the politically motivated statements being made by certain politicians over the arrest of Fonseka by the Military police.

Explaining about the alleged harassment of media personnel and the alleged disappearance of Lanka-e-News journalist Ekneligoda, the Minister pointed out that there are over 7,500 journalists in the country and only a small number of about 20 to 30 persons are making such allegations.

The Minister said Police investigations are underway on the alleged disappearance of Ekneligoda and it is difficult to say whether he was really missing as being alleged or whether he is in self imposed absentia.

The Minister explained such things are not new to this country and said once even an MP from Moneragala area indulged in such a course.

The Minister pointed out certain journalists have made such allegations to seek comfortable lives in foreign countries and cited the example of a journalist who set fire to some books and made some minor damages to his house to seek asylum in a foreign country and is now living abroad in comfort.

Referring to the forthcoming General Election, Abeywardene explained that as per the recently concluded Presidential Election results, the Government is entitled to 131 Parliamentary seats and the Government is confident that with probable reduction in the votes for UNP and with the possibility of some persons who voted for Fonseka voting for the Government in this election the Government will be able to comfortably get a two third majority. He pointed out that the people should realize the need to give two thirds majority to the Government to implement constitutional changes that are of paramount importance for the development of this country and to change the electoral system that will help elect representatives who will be responsible for people at each and every electorate.

The Minister confirmed that almost all pledges made by the President during the course of the Presidential Election will be implemented and even attempts will be made to secure the GSP+.

In the event of not being able to secure this facility, alternative arrangements will be made to give equal concessions to those who may be affected without endangering employment of those employed in the respective sectors.

The BBC story

Sri Lanka’s former military Commander says that he is prepared to give evidence in an international court on war crime charges against Sri Lanka.

General Sarath Fonseka speaking to journalists in Colombo on Monday said, “I am not going to save anyone who has committed war crimes”. International human rights organisations as well as the US State Department has alleged that the Sri Lankan Government committed war crimes during the final phase of the war against the LTTE.

Several human rights organisations have called to try the Sri Lankan state in international courts on alleged abuses against civilians and surrendees.

“I am definitely going to reveal what I know, what I was told and what I heard. Anyone who has committed war crimes should definitely be brought into courts,” Gen. (Rtd) Fonseka said. “Those who reveal the truth are not traitors” he added. Courtesy: BBC

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