Fonseka release held by legal snag

Colombo: A legal snag has held back the imminent release from jail of Sri Lanka`s former Army Chief Sarath Fonseka, who has been granted both a bail and a presidential pardon. Presidential spokesman Bandula Jayasekera in a Twitter message said "not today".

Sources from Fonseka`s Democratic National Alliance (DNA) said that an appeal filed by the former Army Commander over his 3-year jail term has placed a legal impediment over president Mahinda Rajapaksa`s anticipated executive order giving him a pardon and thereby release from jail. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the appeal on May 30. DNA sources said they may file a court motion next Monday to withdraw the appeal application.

Fonseka is currently serving the 3-year jail term having been convicted by the High Court in what was termed as the `white flag` case. He was charged of causing public disaffection of the state through his statement that the senior defence establishment had ordered killing of LTTE formers who turned up at the Army with white flags during the final day of the military clashes in May 2009.

Expectations for Fonseka`s release mounted when his wife Anoma said that Rajapaksa had expressed desire to release the former army chief. Rajapaksa ordered Fonseka`s detention almost immediately after he had crushed the former Army chief in the presidential election of 2010. Fonseka received bail on Friday on the case where he was accused of harbouring military deserters.