AFP – Sri Lanka is to set up special courts to investigate charges of corruption amounting to billions of dollars under former president Mahinda Rajapakse, the government said on Wednesday.
The move, designed to accelerate the process of trying such cases, follows criticism over the slow pace of justice under the government elected three years ago.
President Maithripala Sirisena came to power in 2015 promising to stamp out corruption and punish members of the former administration accused of stealing vast sums from Sri Lanka’s coffers during Rajapakse’s decade in power.
"There will be special three-judge high courts set up exclusively to hear bribery and corruption cases which are currently clogging the lower courts," the government said in a statement.
Sirisena has said as many as half of all public procurement contracts under the Rajapakse administration were corrupt and the new government has renegotiated several multi-billion dollar projects.
Rajapakse’s chief aide Lalith Weeratunga has already been convicted on a charge of misappropriating $4 million and sentenced to three years in prison.
Two of the former president’s three sons have been charged with money-laundering and other family members face allegations of corruption.
Rajapakse, who is not under investigation, denies any wrongdoing and says his successor is carrying out a witch hunt.
Official sources said the new courts could start functioning by the middle of this year.