Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake walked out of her impeachment hearing before lawmakers on Thursday after complaining she was not being given a fair trial, legal and parliamentary sources said.
The move to impeach Ms. Bandaranayake, country’s first woman chief justice, came after she thwarted a bill that would have given more powers to President Mahinda Rajapakse’s younger brother Basil, Economic Development Minister.
“A parliamentary official said on Thursday’s hearing, the third since it began on November 23, ended abruptly as Ms. Bandaranayake staged her dramatic walkout and vowed not to attend any more hearings of a panel dominated by ruling party MPs.
There was no formal reaction from the government, but a ruling party lawmaker who declined to be named said they would proceed with the inquiry with or without the 54-year-old chief justice attending the hearing.
The impeachment bid had led to a head-on collision between the judiciary and the legislature controlled by Mr. Rajapakse who has consolidated power after crushing Tamil Tiger rebels in a military offensive in May 2009.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges, Gabriela Knaul, has urged Colombo to reconsider the impeachment, a request made by Ms. Bandaranayake’s lawyers too.
The ruling party has more than the required simple majority in the 225-member assembly to impeach Bandaranayake, who would otherwise have another 11 years as chief justice.
Ms. Bandaranayake infuriated the government last month when she said it was illegal for lawmakers to investigate her, but vowed she would defend herself against impeachment charges of professional and financial misconduct.— AFP