Sentenced

COLOMBO, July 18, 2014 (AFP) – A Sri Lankan ruling party politician and three accomplices were Friday sentenced to 20 years in jai for murdering a British holidaymaker on Christmas Eve and raping his Russian partner. The case was initially heard in the southern town of Tangalle, the hometown of the main accused, but shifted to the capital Colombo last year following allegations that the suspects were intimidating witnesses.

“There was a lot of media attention on this case,” judge Walgama said while sentencing the four men. “This is an important case in our legal history and I was able to conclude the trial in just over three months of hearings.”

It was not immediately clear if the men would appeal the verdict and the 20-year jail sentences. Two more accused in the case were discharged. The Colombo High Court said town council chief Sampath Vidanapathirana was guilty of killing 32-year-old Khuram Shaikh, an International Red Cross aid worker, who had tried to stop a brawl at a southern beach resort on December 24, 2011.

After 33 days of hearing evidence, judge Rohini Walgama told a packed court house that Vidanapathirana, a member of President Mahinda Rajapakse’s Freedom Alliance, and three others were g