Asia

Sri Lanka judge Shirani Bandaranayake walks out of hearing

Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake Image copyright AFP
Image caption The chief justice says there is "not an iota of truth" in the accusations

Sri Lanka's chief justice, Shirani Bandaranayake, has walked out of an impeachment hearing, saying it was not being conducted fairly.

Her lawyers said they were not given enough time to assess the prosecution's charges, nor given a list of witnesses.

Dr Bandaranayake, who has been in dispute with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, denies accusations of financial and official misconduct.

Her supporters say the impeachment charges are politically motivated.

The dramatic twist in the case came on the third day the chief justice had appeared before a committee of seven government and four opposition parliamentarians.

The deputy speaker said the impeachment would continue despite the walk-out. Dr Bandaranayake and her lawyers say they will take no further part in the proceedings.

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Colombo says civil society figures and lawyers accuse the government of trying to get its own back on a judiciary which has made independent rulings unfavourable to the powerful Mr Rajapaksa. They say he is trying to undermine the rule of law.

The government insists the chief justice is unfit to hold office.

In recent days it has brought thousands of people onto the streets to march and shout slogans against her.

State television is putting out propaganda broadcasts accusing foreigners and non-governmental organisations of backing her and conspiring against the country.

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