Probe Call

COLOMBO, Dec 9, 2012 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s main opposition party asked the Commonwealth Sunday to investigate the impeachment of the country’s chief justice in what it called a breach of the bloc’s democratic values. Opposition spokesman and former foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera urged the group’s secretary general Kamelesh Sharma to order his disciplinary body, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, to probe Sri Lanka.

Samaraweera released a copy of his letter to Sharma a day after President Mahinda Rajapakse’s lawmakers found the nation’s first woman chief justice, Shirani Bandaranayake, guilty of three charges of professional misconduct.

The charges have raised international concerns that the government is trying to control the judiciary after crushing Tamil rebels in 2009 and consolidating its hold on power.

“It was becoming increasingly clear that the Rajapakse regime was moving away from Commonwealth values and principles,” Samaraweera said in the letter.

The “impeachment process — more akin to a witch trial of the dark ages — unleashed against the chief justice has now exposed the true agenda of the regime at its worst,” it said.

The Commonwealth is an associa