Giving in to US-led international pressure,Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has ordered the release of his former army chief-turned-political rival Sarath Fonseka after two years of incarceration.
Rajapaksa signed the papers ordering the release of 61-year-old Fonseka prior to his departure to Qatar,presidential spokesman Bandula Jayasekera told reporters here.
The papers were handed over to presidential chief of staff Gamini Senarath who was supposed to hand them over to the ministry of justice on Monday,following which the formalities for Fonsekas release would be completed.
Rajapaksa departed Saturday night on a state visit to Qatar.
Fonseka was serving a three-year jail term,having been convicted by the High Court in what was termed as the white flag case. He was charged with causing public disaffection of the state through his statement that the senior defence establishment had ordered the killing of surrendering LTTE rebels who had approached the army with white flags on the final day of the military clashes in May 2009.
Expectations for Fonsekas release had mounted when his wife Anoma said earlier this week that Rajapaksa had expressed a desire to grant him a presidential pardon.