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Sri Lanka war hero sentenced to 3 years on charge he implicated defense secretary in war crime
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) ' Sri Lanka's former army chief was sentenced Friday to three more years in prison for reportedly implicating the defense secretary in war crimes at the end of the country's civil war.
Two judges of a three-member High Court bench ruled that Sarath Fonseka's reported comments to a newspaper breached an emergency law. He claimed at his trial he was misquoted.
Fonseka rejected the verdict as unjust but said he was not surprised because Sri Lankan authorities did not want him active in politics. Attorney Nalin Ladduwahetty said Fonseka would appeal the sentence.
Fonseka led Sri Lanka's army to victory in its 25-year civil war with separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009, and he and President Mahinda Rajapaksa were widely popular as a result. However, their relationship deteriorated, and Fonseka challenged Rajapaksa in the presidential election last year.
Days after the election, Fonseka was arrested and a court martial found him guilty of planning his political career while still in the military and of fraud in purchasing military ware. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison and stripped of his rank and medals. Friday's sentence means Fonseka will have to spend three more years in jail when he finishes serving his first sentence in February 2013.
International human rights groups have long accused Sri Lanka's government of committing war crimes in the final stages of the war.
Ethnic Tamil activists say in the face of defeat several Tamil Tiger political leaders including its political wing head Balasingham Nadesan tried to surrender and approached a military sentry holding white flags, but they were shot dead.
The government denied that and said the rebels were killed in combat.
According to prosecution, Fonseka told a newspaper he was informed that Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa ordered ground soldiers not to accommodate any surrendees.