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I am still the legitimate chief justice: Lanka's sacked judge

January 15, 2013 20:38 IST

Having been unceremoniously removed as Sri Lanka's top judge, Shirani Bandaranayake on Tuesday said she still believed she was the legitimate chief justice of the country and expressed fear for her life in a stoic parting statement.

Sri Lanka's first woman chief justice, who was impeached by the parliament, said she was unjustly persecuted for standing up for an independent judiciary.

"I still am the duly appointed legitimate chief justice," she said, refusing to acknowledge her removal.

"I stand here before you today having been unjustly persecuted, vilified and condemned," the 54-year-old top judge told reporters.

She said she had gone through an ordeal in the past few months and she feared for her personal safety as well as that of her husband and son.

"My life is in danger. The lives of all three of us are in danger," she said.

She hailed the Supreme Court for holding the parliamentary committee investigation procedure against her as unconstitutional.

Leaving her official residence after President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed his hand-picked man, Mohan Peiris, as her successor, Bandaranayake said the treatment meted out to her "was an ordeal no citizen let alone the chief justice of the republic should be subjected to".

"I wasn't even allowed to say my goodbyes to the people whom I worked with at the Supreme Court for over 16 years," she lamented.

Bandaranayake, however, said she was leaving her chambers and her official residence because she fears that violence would be directed against innocent people, including judges and lawyers.

"I have suffered because I stood for an independent judiciary and withstood the pressures," she said, once again rejecting the allegations against her as blatant lies.

Bandaranayake was found guilty by a select committee for her personal financial dealings. She had walked out of the investigation, calling it biased.

However, the government went ahead and impeached her in an ex-parte trial.

A parliamentary vote last Friday was followed by a presidential order dismissing her and the government.

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