COLOMBO (Reuters) - A senior Sri Lankan High Court judge was beaten with pistols and hospitalized on Sunday, triggering a one day strike by the island nation's judges, who were already angry at perceived political interference in the courts.

The victim of the attack, Judge Manjula Tilakaratne, last month complained of pressure on a judicial commission he heads that can appoint and transfer judges and magistrates, after it rejected an invitation to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa

Rajapaksa condemned the violence against Tilakaratne and ordered the police to bring the perpetrators to justice, the government said in a statement.

Political violence has eased since the army crushed the 30-year-old Tamil Tiger rebellion in 2009, but international human rights groups say serious rule of law problems remain, with abductions, attacks on media and government critics not uncommon.

"He was attacked by four gunmen asking if he was the secretary of the Judicial Service Commission," a judge who visited Tilakaratne in the hospital told Reuters, asking not to be named for fear of reprisals.

"He was attacked with pistols on his face and manhandled."

Judges will not work on Monday in protest at the attack, a judicial association said in a statement.

The police said a special operation had been launched to track and arrest the culprits.

Tilakaratne has said he received death threats after he complained last month of intimidation on the judiciary, following a decision by the commission to suspend a district judge. (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Will Waterman)




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