New Sri Lanka chief justice Mohan Peiris sworn in amid opposition

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Media caption,
Shirani Bandaranayake was declared guilty of corruption, but she has denied wrongdoing

Sri Lanka's president has appointed a close ally to replace the chief justice who was sacked two days after being impeached by parliament on Friday.

Former attorney general and senior government legal adviser Mohan Peiris was appointed on Tuesday to replace Shirani Bandaranayake.

Her removal was pronounced unlawful by the courts and condemned by the opposition and many lawyers.

Ms Bandaranayake said on Tuesday that her life was in danger.

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Colombo says that the former chief justice was able to tell journalists from her car as she left home that her life and those of her husband and son were in danger, despite police attempts to stop her speaking.

In a statement released on Tuesday she said that "the very tenor of [the] rule of law, natural justice and judicial abeyance has not only been ousted, but brutally mutilated".

She added: "I have suffered because I stood for an independent judiciary and withstood the pressures."

Describing the accusations levelled against her as "blatant lies", she said that she was "totally innocent of all charges".

"Since it now appears that there might be violence if I remain in my official residence or my chambers, I am compelled to move out of my official residence and chambers," she added.

The government denies it turned against her after some unfavourable judgements.


Ms Bandaranayake, 54, faced a parliamentary committee late last year which investigated charges of financial and official misconduct against her. It found her guilty of three out of 14 misconduct charges.

But two recent court rulings found the impeachment process was unconstitutional.

On Sunday President Mahinda Rajapaksa ratified parliament's vote to impeach her.

But she is still being recognised by most lawyers, many of whom have condemned her removal as politically motivated.

Security forces were present at the Supreme Court and police sources told the BBC that they had instructions not to let Ms Bandaranayake in amid fears she would refuse to step down.

Parliament, dominated by the president's supporters, voted on Friday to remove her.

Our correspondent says that the government's disregard for court rulings in her favour has triggered international and domestic dismay.

An umbrella group of lawyers has said that it does not accept the dismissal and the Commonwealth has said it is deeply concerned.

The US state department has also said that the impeachment "raises serious questions about the separation of powers in Sri Lanka, which is a fundamental tenet of a healthy democracy".

But the government has also repeatedly brought thousands of its supporters to the streets declaring Ms Bandaranayake corrupt - a message echoed by the obedient state media, our correspondent says.

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