Sri Lanka jails former minister for saying judges are corrupt

The outspoken opposition politician has been jailed for four years [File: Eranga Jayawardena/AP]
The outspoken opposition politician has been jailed for four years [File: Eranga Jayawardena/AP]

An outspoken Sri Lankan opposition politician has been jailed for four years over his remarks alleging the majority of judges in the South Asian island nation were corrupt.

Ranjan Ramanayake, a deputy minister of the United National Party before it was voted out in 2019, claimed he was being targeted for speaking out against corruption. The 57-year-old was sentenced on Tuesday to “rigorous imprisonment” by the Supreme Court for making the remarks in 2017 to reporters outside the prime minister’s official residence in Colombo. “We convict him for the offence of contempt of court and sentence him to four years rigorous imprisonment,” according to the 20-page verdict of the court seen by the AFP news agency.

“He admitted in his evidence that he said the following words: ‘Majority in Sri Lanka are corrupted judges, corrupted lawyers. They work for money’,” said the ruling, which was unanimous. Ramanayake was a deputy minister in the government of then-President Maithripala Sirisena when he made the remarks after a meeting with top anti-corruption officials. Following the change in government, Ramanayake was arrested and charged for allegedly recording more than 100,000 personal phone calls.

The sometimes lewd and compromising contents were leaked on social media early last year, causing a considerable scandal. In some of the tapes, Ramanayake is heard discussing court cases with judges, police, politicians and local celebrities. A separate investigation into the recordings is pending.

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