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'Don't betray people by protecting so called war heroes' says Fonseka

Dismissing criticism of his willingness to stand as a witness against the former Sri Lankan military general who has been accused of war crimes, Field Marshal and former army commander, Sarath Fonseka told the government, "don't betray people by protecting so called war heroes". 

“We are aware that the soldiers who committed rapes and murders were punished. Those who were accused of murder and rape of Manamperi and the murder of Embilipitiya students were hanged to death. Then the leaders of the government took decisions in favour of the people," Mr Fonseka was quoted by the Daily Mirror as saying to reporters on Monday. 

"The leaders should always be on the side of the people. Some people say that I am a traitor. Those who say so were afraid of going beyond Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa," he added. 

"The people breathe in freely because I finished the war. That is why the media also write at their will. If I am a traitor who has finished the war, then are those who robbed the properties of the country and those who killed the people using white vans and their disciples who committed corruption and frauds patriots? There are such disciples in Kelaniya also."

"I have a problem of understanding them in the true sense of the word: patriots. I gave orders to an army of 200,000 soldiers. One person who was in that army was Jagath Jayasuriya. He was not involved in the operations. The president should be held responsible if he had involved such a cowardice which affected the people when I was giving orders to an army of 200,000."

"The Army commander is responsible for lawful acts only. The ministers and members of the parliament act as the representatives of the people. There is no change in the army in the past or present. The majors and captains were punished and hanged for wrongdoings."

Last week, the former military general Jagath Jayasuriya was forced to flee Brazil after human rights organisations filed lawsuits against him over his role in committing war crimes during the final stages of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka. 

Mr Fonseka responded to the incident by saying he was away that crimes were committed under Mr Jayasuriya's command and he was willing to stand as a witness. 

Mr Jayasuriya has rejected the allegations as "baseless". 

Several Sri Lankan politicians have condemned Mr Fonseka's comments as traitorous.