Sri Lanka makes first-ever arrest of Supreme Court judge over alleged sexual assault of woman

COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lankan police on Tuesday made the first-ever arrest of a Supreme Court judge who was detained in connection with an alleged sexual assault, an official said.

Justice Sarath de Abrew was arrested following investigations into a complaint that he tried to force a 39-year-old woman to have sex with him on the outskirts of Colombo and beat her up when she refused, a police official said.

The judge, who is in his 60s, was taken before a magistrate who ordered his release on personal bail of 500,000 rupees (S$5,040), the police said.

"The magistrate also ordered the judge to cooperate with the Criminal Investigations Department (of the police) and make a statement," a police official said.

"He had previously refused to make a statement to the police."

Mr Victor Ivan, an author who has written extensively on the country's judiciary, said it was the first time in Sri Lanka's history that a judge from the apex court had been arrested.

Supreme Court judges can only be removed through a complicated impeachment process in Parliament.

Sri Lanka's Parliament was dissolved last month, ahead of elections in August.