Friday, March 15, 2013

Sri Lanka: Update--2011 Murder of Briton Khuram Shaikh Zaman, 32, Justice Denied

As a follow-up to this morning’s posting, and according to The Colombo Page, the Sri Lankan government is apparently waiting for DNA evidence concerning the murder of Briton Khuram Shaikh Zaman, 32, and serious injury to his companion, Russian national Victoria Alexandrovna, 23. 

According to a government spokesperson in Colombo, once the DNA evidence is processed, the trial of the defendants can begin, although the British government has been hearing such explanations for well over a year.

A special prosecutor has been nominated by the Attorney General to conduct the prosecution under the guidance of the Additional Solicitor General who heads the Criminal Division of the Attorney General's Department. 

Khuram Shaikh Zaman, 32, was killed and his companion, Victoria Alexandrovna, severely injured after an argument ensued between the victims and local politicians during a party at a tourist hotel in Rekawa, Tangalle on Christmas Eve, 2011.   

The main suspect, ruling party Chairman of Tangalle, Pradeshiya Sabha Sampath Chandra Pushpa Vidanapathirana and six others, who were arrested and remanded following the murder, were released on bail in November 2012 last year. 

COMMENT: In order to expedite proceedings, Sri Lanka's Attorney General has decided to forward a direct indictment to the High Court, without the non-summary inquiry, which is now possible pursuant to a law passed recently. 

Following the recent visit of British MP Simon Danczuk, who has expressed his dissatisfaction over the lack of progress in the Khuram Shaikh Zaman murder case, the MP has said he will take the matter up with the Queen and urge her to boycott the Commonwealth Summit in November 2013. 

Danczuk complained that during his recent visit to Colombo several senior Sri Lankan ministers had refused to meet with him: He could  only meet with the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Mohammed Hisbullah and the Secretary to the Ministry of Justice, Kamalani de Silva. 

The Ministry explained that during the MP's visit along with Mr. Naseer Shaikh, Khuram's brother,  the Government facilitated meetings in spite of the short notice and the busy schedules of policy makers and senior officials to brief on the progress made in the case and to listen to the concerns of the delegation. 

The government has been severely criticized for its slow progress on the case and law enforcement authorities in Sri Lanka are accused of stalling the justice due to the involvement of a ruling party politician in the murder.   

Seemingly, the Sri Lankan government surely must perceive the ramifications of declining British tourists visiting the country, yet apparently protecting a ruling party politician has a higher priority than revenue from tourism.