Rajapaksa pledges independent probe on top judge impeachment
Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday "regretted" the impeachment motion against the country`s first woman Chief Justice and said he will appoint an independent probe into the parliamentary panel`s report against her.
"I will appoint an independent committee before taking a decision", Rajapaksa told a gathering of chartered accountants here.
His remarks came as the first reaction to a parliamentary panel finding Shirani Bandaranayake, 54, guilty of three counts on Saturday.
She is accused of 14 charges of private and professional conduct as the top judge.
Rajapaksa said being a lawyer himself, he "regretted" the action moved against the chief justice, adding that, it was not his "intention to demean the judiciary".
The impeachment came as a result of numerous complaints mainly from the opposition against Bandaranayake, he said.
The move to impeach Bandaranayake came after she scuttled several bills, including one that gave more powers to Rajapakse`s brother Basil, the economic development minister.
The top judge and her lawyers had on last Thursday walked out of the impeachment hearing. She had later appealed to the parliamentary speaker to conduct an impartial and transparent hearing.
The opposition members also withdrew from the panel leaving the seven government members to carry out the trial ex-parte.
The opposition, international governments and rights organisations questioned the impropriety of the procedure and appealed for a fair trial.