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Sri Lankan politician jailed for killing Briton

July 18, 2014

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A Sri Lankan court sentenced a ruling party politician to 20 years in prison with hard labor on Friday for killing a British tourist and raping his Russian girlfriend more than two years ago.

Three others were given the same sentence as Sampath Vidanapathirana by a High Court. It found them guilty of murdering Khuram Shaikh, a Red Cross aid worker, and raping his girlfriend at a southern tourist resort on Christmas Day in 2011.

The case attracted international attention amid allegations that Vidanapathirana was enjoying immunity because of his connections to the family of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The case was discussed in Britain’s Parliament, and British politicians and the victim’s family visited Sri Lanka to personally demand justice.

Amid increasing scrutiny and pressure over Sri Lanka’s human rights record, charges were filed against Vidanapathirana and five other suspects. The court discharged two of them on Friday.

“Today is a symbolic moment; a day the country delivered justice, a day I delivered my promise to a brother,” Shaikh’s brother Nasir, said in a statement.

The British Embassy in Colombo welcomed the judgment saying it hoped it will bring a closure to Shaikh’s family and friends who faced “a long and difficult fight for justice.”

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