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07 December 2023

Sri Lanka arrests fugitive politician over Briton's killing


Sri Lankan investigators arrested a ruling party politician who failed to turn up to his trial for the Christmas Day killing of a British tourist two years ago, police said Wednesday.

Sampath Vidanapathirana, a councillor in the southern region of Tangalle, was tracked down and arrested in the capital Colombo on Tuesday night after he failed to answer a court summons nearly two weeks ago.

"He was arrested by the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) in a house at Kotte," police spokesman Ajith Rohana said, referring to a suburb in the capital.

Vidanapathirana from the ruling People's Alliance is the main suspect in the killing of British tourist Khuram Sheikh who was shot dead on December 25, 2011, at a hotel in Tangalle.

The failure to convict anyone over Sheikh's murder has been a diplomatic embarrassment for Sri Lanka, with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron citing it as an example of Colombo's failure to deliver justice.

Sheikh had been working for the International Committee of the Red Cross in the Gaza Strip.