Landmark Case

COLOMBO, Sept 16, 2013 (AFP) – Sri Lanka Monday brought criminal charges of corruption against former chief justice Shirani Bandaranayake whose sacking earlier this year was internationally criticised as a blow to judicial independence. The impeachment process was launched in November after several Supreme Court decisions went against the government of Rajapakse, who has tightened his hold on power since crushing Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009.

Ruling party lawmakers found Bandaranayake guilty of tampering with a case involving a firm from which her sister bought an apartment, of failing to declare dormant bank accounts and of staying in office while her husband faced a bribery charge.

She has said the charges were politically motivated and that she was denied a fair trial by members of parliament. Bandaranayake, the country’s first female head of the judiciary and the first judge to be impeached, was brought before a Colombo magistrate who impounded her passport and scheduled a hearing for February.

“The magistrate invited her to take a seat among the lawyers, but she opted to remain in the dock and hear the charges,” the head of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Upul Jayasuriya, told AFP.

He said more t