Impeachment motion: Panel to probe Lanka chief justice

Sri Lanka's Parliament appointed 11 lawmakers, seven of them in the ruling party's coalition, on Wednesday to investigate an impeachment motion that accuses the country's chief justice of misusing power and having unexplained wealth.

Coalition lawmakers submitted the motion two weeks ago, calling for a Parliament Select Committee to probe 14 charges and remove Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.

Parliamentary Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa announced that the committee — which includes seven government lawmakers and four from opposition parties — would probe the charges published in Parliament's official agenda last week. The committee is headed by government minister and lawyer Anura Priyadarshana Yapa.

The complaint alleges that Bandaranayake did not disclose how she obtained Rs 19 million ($146,000) to pay for a house purchased under power of attorney for another person. It also alleges that she took control of several cases filed against the company that sold the property after removing the judges who originally heard them. The motion also accuses Bandaranayake of not declaring the contents of 20 bank accounts, including four foreign currency accounts containing the equivalent of Rs 34 million ($260,000), and alleges that she misused her position to harass other judges.

If the committee rules that the complaint has merit, an impeachment motion will be voted on and forwarded to President Mahinda Rajapaksa for further action. With the ruling coalition controlling more than two-thirds of Parliament's seats, the motion is expected to be carried easily.

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