Sri Lanka replaces impeached chief justice

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2013, 1:06pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2013, 1:10pm


Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa nominated the government’s senior legal advisor Mohan Peiris as a replacement for the impeached chief justice, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

Peiris is scheduled to take his oath of office shortly after a parliamentary panel confirms his appointment around midday (Sri Lankan time), spokesman Mohan Samaranayake said.

“I can confirm now that Mohan Peiris will be the new chief justice,” Samaranayake said. “Immediately after the affirmation from parliament, he will take his oaths.”

Peiris retired two years ago as attorney general, but has since been the senior legal advisor to the cabinet in addition to being a key defender of Sri Lanka’s record at UN rights meetings.

Peiris’ appointment comes after Rajapaksa approved Shirani Bandaranayake’s dismissal on Sunday, two days after lawmakers voted for her impeachment.

Judges have declared the impeachment of Bandaranayake, the first woman chief justice, to be illegal and unconstitutional.

The US reiterated its concerns on Monday when State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the impeachment “raises serious questions about the separation of powers in Sri Lanka, which is a fundamental tenet of a healthy democracy”.

Lawmakers found Bandaranayake guilty of tampering with a case involving a company 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 said the charges were politically motivated and she was denied a fair trial. Her lawyers vowed to contest her removal and resist the new chief justice.