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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Fonseka’s conviction lacked material – Counsel

Appeal against CM II conviction and sentence
 Chitra Weerarathne
The convictions of General Fonseka, by the Court Martial II, were not affirmed by the convening Authority, the President. Hence, there cannot be a consequential sentence, said Romesh de Silva PC, in the Court of Appeal yesterday.

Counsel, de Silva, appearing for Fonseka, requested the Court to quash the decision and the sentence imposed by the Court Martial II, which convicted Fonseka of disgraceful conduct and imposed a sentence of 30 months imprisonment.

Fonseka was accused of chairing a tender board which awarded a contract to a company which was known to his son-in-law.

Counsel de Silva told the Court, that the son-in-law was not a shareholder or a director of that company, British Borneo of Australia. He said that Tilakaratne, the son-in-law of Fonseka, had nothing to do with that company, British Borneo or its agent Hicorp.

He said the conviction of Fonseka was without any material and there was no evidence to show that Danuna Tilkarathne gained anything out of that tender, which had been properly awarded.

He said there was not a dot of evidence to show that Fonseka knew that Danuna had anything to do with the company.

Counsel de Silva said the evidence did not justify the conviction of Fonseka. He cited the Bracegirdle case, where in 1937, the Chief Justice Abraham said that the power of the governor was not absolute and the liberty of the subject was paramount.

Bracegirdle was released from the police custody.

He said that Danuna is not connected to the tender. Fonseka had no knowledge that Danuna knew anything about those companies. The tender had been properly awarded and the Army had not lost anything, Counsel explained. Hence, there was no evidence to convict Fonseka, he added.

The Sri Lankan Embassy had once paid for Danuna’s Security in UK. Hence the allegation that Fonseka concealed his relationship to Danuna could not stand, Counsel said.

He said that the conviction cannot be maintained.

There had been other tenders chaired by Fonseka, when he was the Commander. But, they were not awarded to Hicorp. The 30 months sentence was chosen to deprive Fonseka of the Parliamentary seat. No reasons were given on how they arrived at the 30 months sentence, Counsel de Silva said.



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