Sri Lanka reinstates Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake

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Sri Lanka's former chief justice Shirani Bandaranayake (C) arrives at the Supreme Court complex in Colombo on January 28, 2015, after new Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena restored her to her positionImage source, AFP
Image caption,
Shirani Bandaranayake always denied the corruption charges

Sri Lanka's new president has reinstated the former chief justice two years after she was sacked by his predecessor over corruption claims.

A smiling Shirani Bandaranayake returned to the Supreme Court to be given flowers by her supporters.

President Maithripala Sirisena's office called her removal a "procedural" error. She always denied corruption.

However, her return is thought only temporary as reports say she is to retire now her name has been cleared.

The former attorney-general who was put in to replace her, Mohan Peiris, has been asked to leave.

"The chief justice was restored and the imposter was asked to go," said an official quoted by AFP news agency.

Ms Bandaranayake had corruption charges levelled against her by ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa after some of her legal rulings went against his government.

She was removed in January 2013 after being impeached on the recommendation of a parliamentary committee dominated by Mr Rajapaksa's supporters.

The UN's Human Rights Council said the sacking was an assault on judicial independence.

Mr Sirisena had vowed in his manifesto to restore Ms Bandaranayake. He dramatically defeated Mr Rajapaksa in presidential elections on 8 January.

But in a surprise move, the Bar Association said Ms Bandaranayake would only return as top judge for a day or so as her aim was to clear her name and then retire, reports the BBC's former Sri Lanka correspondent Charles Haviland.

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