Wed, Jan 02, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Impeachment of Sri Lankan judge unfair: UN official

AP, COLOMBO, Sri Lanka

The efforts to impeach Sri Lanka’s chief justice lack due process and appear to be the culmination of attacks against the judiciary’s independence, a UN official said in urging authorities to reconsider the impeachment.

In a highly criticized investigation, a parliamentary committee found Sri Lankan Chief Justice Shirani Banadaranayke guilty of unexplained wealth and misuse of power and said last month that she was unfit for office.

Parliament is expected to vote for her impeachment when it convenes this month and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa then could decide to dismiss or retain her.

The UN’s Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, urged that the impeachment be reconsidered “due to the lack of due process and fair trial guarantees and to ensure that the judiciary can operate free from external pressures, threats or any interference.”

Bandaranayake’s case has drawn international concern, and opposition party activists, lawyers and rights activists have protested that the impeachment process was unfair.

Bandaranayake and her lawyers walked out during a hearing on her case, saying it was unfair.

Bandaranayake was found guilty of not disclosing details of 20 bank accounts, buying a house for another person as an attorney and then taking judicial control of cases against the company that sold the property.

She was also found to have a conflict of interest because she has supervisory powers over judges hearing a corruption case against her husband, who is a former Sri Lankan state bank chairman.

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