Shirani Bandaranayake: Sri Lanka judge impeachment hearing begins

Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake Lawmakers from the ruling party began proceedings against the chief justice

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Sri Lanka's parliament has begun an impeachment hearing against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.

Dr Bandaranayake, 54, faced an 11-member parliamentary committee which is investigating 14 charges of financial and official misconduct.

The Supreme Court chief justice denies the charges levelled against her.

Critics say this move is aimed at stifling the courts' independence after the Supreme Court blocked a recent government bill - officials deny this.

They say due process will be followed, but the state media has been running a campaign against her, saying the judge is unfit to hear cases, correspondents say.

Friday's hearing went ahead despite a non-binding court order to stay the process until legal challenges to the impeachment had been considered.

A statement released by Dr Bandaranayake earlier this month said she would continue discharging her duties impartially.

The move to impeach her was initiated by lawmakers from the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance.

The Judicial Services Association (JSA) of Sri Lanka has defended the chief justice, praising her for "standing firm against any type of interference and influence".

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