- Judge Unseated Following Abuse Case
By Nirmala Kannangara
A controversial Judge of the Court of Appeal has been removed from the bench, The Sunday Leader has learnt. Registrar for the Court of Appeal, S. Pinnaduwa, said that Justice Sarath de Abrew had been removed from the bench of the Court of Appeal since last September and is confined to his chambers. Pinnaduwa however said he could not reveal the reason for Justice de Abrew’s removal asserting the reason is known only to President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
When asked whether removing a Judge from the bench was a normal procedure, Pinnaduwa said that it was not. “Generally judges are not removed from the bench unless there is a reason for it. In this instance, I do not know the reason. Only the President knows the reason for the Judge’s removal from the bench,” Pinnaduwa told The Sunday Leader.
The Sunday Leader reliably understands that Justice de Abrew was removed from the bench following an exposé in this newspaper in its August 1, 2010 edition on the alleged sexual abuse of a domestic maid by the Judge.
When The Sunday Leader spoke with Justice de Abrew he admitted that indeed he had been removed from the bench last year following “an investigation after which a report was sent to the Chief Justice and thereafter a letter sent to the President,” he said, adding, “up to date there has been no reply from the President.”
De Abrew, added that following this report the Chief Justice had ordered for only a single judge to sit on the usual two judge bench in the Court of Appeal. He hastened to add that he himself has had no personal interaction with the Chief Justice.
Asked why an investigation had taken place and a report submitted, Justice de Abrew said, “there was a conspiracy against me.” He however refused to divulge what exactly the conspiracy was.
Quizzed on whether his removal was connected to The Sunday Leader exposé of alleged sexual abuse on a domestic maid he replied, “not your paper… that was carried in the Ravaya.”
But The Sunday Leader did on August 1, 2010 in its lead story on Page 1, carry a story by Ranee Mohamed which reported that concern was emerging over the investigations into the case of a 20 year old domestic maid who alleged that she was abused by the master of the house – a judge of the Court of Appeal.
A complaint was made initially at the Mount Lavinia Police by the victim, a resident of Santhipura area in Nuwara Eliya, that she was sexually abused by “Sarath Mahaththaya.”