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Sri Lanka lawyers to boycott chief justice ceremony

[BBC, Wednesday, 23 January 2013 09:42 No Comment]

Shirani Bandaranayake has said she believes she and her family are in danger The main association of lawyers in Sri Lanka has said it will boycott the inauguration of the government’s newly appointed chief justice.

Mohan Peiris has already been sworn in but the official ceremony is due to take place on Wednesday.

His predecessor, Shirani Bandaranayake, was removed from the post two days after being impeached over allegations of financial and official misconduct.

She denies the charges and her lawyers say she did not have a fair trial.

Her removal was pronounced unlawful by the courts and condemned by the opposition.

Sri Lanka Bar Association Chairman Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, confirmed to the BBC that the organisation would "not welcome" Mr Peiris.

However he acknowledged that Mr Peiris was the country’s "de facto chief justice" and that the body would have to work alongside him in the future so it did not "let down" its clients, says the BBC’s Charles Haviland in Colombo.

Ms Bandaranayake, 54, faced a parliamentary committee late last year which investigated the charges against her. It found her guilty of three out of 14 misconduct charges.

Two recent court rulings found the impeachment process was unconstitutional, but earlier this month President Mahinda Rajapaksa ratified a vote in parliament – which is dominated by his supporters – to impeach her.

Ms Bandaranayake has said the allegations against her are "blatant lies" and that she is being persecuted because she "stood for an independent judiciary and withstood the pressures".

She has since said that she believes that she and her family are in danger. Lawyers who have represented or criticised the impeachment also say they have received death threats.

The president says the government "never deviated from the constitution" during the process.

But critics of the impeachment in Sri Lanka and abroad have view the move as an attempt by President Rajapaksa and his three powerful brothers to consolidate their already tight grip on the country, says our correspondent.

[Full Coverage]

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