19 Nov 2011

Further prison sentence for former army chief

7:19 am on 19 November 2011

A court in Sri Lanka has sentenced former army chief Sarath Fonseka, to three years in prison after he accused the government of committing war crimes.

He has rejected the verdict, saying it is aimed at keeping him out of politics.

General Fonseka led the Sri Lankan military to victory against the Tamil Tigers in 2009, but fell out with President Mahinda Rajapaksa afterwards, and ran against him in elections last year.

On Friday the High Court in Colombo found him guilty on a charge of "spreading disaffection" in a newspaper interview.

Fonseka, 60, says he was quoted out of context in the article in the Sunday Leader on 13 December 2009.

One of the three judges on the bench dissented from the verdict and he was cleared on two other charges.

However, he faces two more court cases, including one of harbouring army deserters. The next court case starts in January.

Fonseka is already serving a sentence of 30 months after a court martial last year convicted him of irregularities in army procurements.

His lawyer told the BBC he would appeal against the verdict.