The Colombo High Court sentenced UPFA strongman and former Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Sampath Chandrapushpa Vidanapathirana and three individuals to 20 years rigorous imprisonment for the murder of British national Khuram Shaikh and raping his girlfriend in December 2011.
Meanwhile, two others who were also on trial charged with the same crimes were acquitted of all charges and released.
The arrest of the main suspect of the trial – Vidanapathirana was prolonged until the British government raised issue concerning the lack of legal action on the crime. Although Vidanapathirana was suspended by the UPFA for his involvement in the crime, he was later reinstated and continued to hold the post of Tangalle PS Chairman until his arrest that led to today’s sentencing.
There was heavy lobbying worldwide for the prosecution of Shaikh’s killers to which included the British government as well as the MP for Shaikh’s home constituency – Rochdale, Simon Danzuk. The delay in the proceedings of the murder case turned into a major issue in the run-up to the Commonwealth Summit in Colombo last year, which prompted the main suspect -Vidanapathirana’s indictment that was carried out soon after the conclusion of CHOGM last year.
Vidanapathirana and five others were accused of brutally murdering British national and International Red Cross worker Khuram Shaikh at a hotel in Tangalle on Christmas Eve of 2011. The men were also charged with assaulting and raping Shaikh’s girlfriend Victoria Alexandrona.