Sri Lankan parliament recommends dismissal of chief justice

In this November 23, 2012 photo Sri Lanka's Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake leaves to face impeachment proceedings in Colombo. A Sri Lankan parliamentary committee concluded on Saturday that she is unfit to hold the office. A parliamentary panel in Sri Lanka on Saturday recommended the dismissal of the country’s chief justice, after finding her guilty on three offences including financial irregularities, a senior Cabinet Minister said.

The 11-member committee concluded its report against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake by finding her guilty of failing to declare her earnings, of hearing a case in which she had an interest, and of continuing to hold the position of chief justice while a case against her husband was pending.

Ms. Bandaranayake was accused of 14 charges in November of holding 20 bank accounts, including four foreign currency deposits worth $260,000, without declaring them as required of public officials.

However, the committee said it was not going to investigate all 14 charges as the three charges proved were sufficient to remove her from office.

Main opposition parties, lawyers’ groups and other professional organisations have said the charges were politically motivated, and Ms. Bandaranayke’s lawyers denied all the allegations.

Four opposition members withdrew from the committee on Friday, saying it was preconceived to finding her guilty.

Ms. Bandaranayake herself boycotted a committee hearing on Thursday.

But the impeachment motion against the chief justice was signed by 118 members of parliament representing the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance.

The findings of the committee will now be submitted to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and then debated before a motion is passed in parliament for her removal.

The government has a near two thirds majority in parliament.

[Full Coverage]

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