Sri Lanka ex-chief justice charged with corruption

[JURIST] Sri Lanka prosecutors on Monday brought criminal corruption charges against former chief justice Shirani Bandaranayake [JURIST news archive]. The nation's anti-graft commission accused Bandaranayake of allegedly failing to disclose empty bank accounts during a required declaration of assets while she was in office. If found guilty, in accordance with the Bribery Act [text, PDF], Bandaranayake may face a fine as large as 5,000 rupees and seven years imprisonment. Many lawyers have already offered their support to the former chief justice in belief that the allegation is wholly frivolous [AFP report]. A Colombo magistrate impounded Bandaranayake's passport and scheduled the hearing for February.

In addition to becoming Sri Lanka's first female chief justice, Bandaranayake also made national history as the first judge to be impeached. Amid controversy, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa [official profile] signed the order to remove Bandaranayake from office in January after the Sri Lankan parliament voted in an overwhelming majority to impeach the chief justice [JURIST reports]. Earlier that month, the UN expressed concern [JURIST report] over the chief justice's impeachment proceedings, saying they were "extremely politicized and characterized by lack of transparency, lack of clarity in the proceedings, as well as lack of respect for the fundamental guarantees of due process and fair trial." In December Bandaranayake appealed a guilty verdict [JURIST reports] reached earlier that month by a parliamentary committee on three charges of misconduct. The charges on which she was found guilty dealt with conflict of interest, claiming of assets for tax assessment purposes and bias in handling a case against her husband.

 

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