Sri Lankan female chief justice fired


President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Sunday fired the country’s first woman chief justice by ratifying Parliament’s vote to impeach her, his spokesman said.

The move came despite mounting calls on Rajapaksa to halt the impeachment, which has been seen by rights groups and Western nations as a blow to judicial independence in a country emerging from decades of ethnic war.

“The president this morning signed the letter removing Shirani Bandaranayake from the office of chief justice,” spokesman Mohan Samaranayake said. “The letter was hand-delivered to her by a secretary accompanied by presidential security staff.”

Samaranayake said the president acted in line with the constitution to remove Bandaranayake, 54, following Friday’s overwhelming parliamentary vote to remove her.

Legislators found her guilty of tampering with a case involving a company her sister had bought an apartment from, of failing to declare dormant bank accounts and of staying in office while her husband faced a bribery charge.