16 Mar 2010

Sri Lanka's top general on trial

9:56 pm on 16 March 2010

The military trial has begun for Sri Lanka's defeated presidential candidate, Sarath Fonseka.

The former army commander has appeared before a court martial at the start of a process which could last months.

He faces charges of meddling in politics while still a senior officer in the army.

The trial was adjourned until 6 April, two days before parliamentary polls.

But the BBC reports General Fonseka is due to return to court within 24 hours on separate charges of violating military procurement procedures.

General Fonseka says the charges are politically motivated and an attempt to bar him from forthcoming elections.

Protests against his arrest and court martial have been held in Colombo.

General Fonseka was in charge of Sri Lanka's army when it defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels last year after 25 years of civil war.

But he and President Mahinda Rajapaksa fell out over who should take credit for the victory.