Shirani Bandaranayake denies Sri Lanka impropriety charges

Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake The state media is now running a campaign against Dr Bandaranayake

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Sri Lankan Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake has denied allegations of financial impropriety levelled against her by the government.

The accusations are contained in a 14-point motion to remove her from office, now being considered by parliament.

Through her lawyers, Dr Bandaranayake rejected four counts of misconduct in an impeachment motion formally submitted before parliament on Tuesday.

Critics say the charges are aimed at stifling the courts' independence.

The chief justice - the most senior judge in the country - denies keeping undisclosed bank accounts, amassing undeclared sums in foreign currency or engaging in financial misconduct.

A statement released by her said she would continue discharging her duties impartially.

Lawyers say some of the additional charges against her contain clear inaccuracies in referring to dates and names.

The opposition says the government wants to cut the judiciary down to size for hampering the passage of bills, including one that centralises development funds.

The government denies this and says due process will be followed, but the state media is now running a campaign against Dr Bandaranayake, saying she is unfit to hear cases.

The Daily News on Thursday in its lead story quoted "legal sources" who accused her of continuing to hear cases from on the Supreme Court Bench... "In gross violation of all expectations of propriety."

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

In a statement the JSA said that judges of the minor judiciary had "enjoyed greater freedom to discharge their duties without fear or favour" under her stewardship.

The statement urged the media to remember that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

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