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Rochdale MP sparks off diplomatic dispute in Sri Lanka over murder probe remarks

2013 Jul 27

Sri Lankan government is left furious by ‘inappropriate’ remarks by Simon Danczuk about the murder of Rochdale aid worker Khuram Shaikh
ROW Simon Danczuk MP has angered the Sri Lankan government by revealing he planned to tackle the president on the stalled case of Khuram Shaikh, the Milnrow man killed while on holiday 18 months ago ROW Simon Danczuk MP has angered the Sri Lankan government by revealing he planned to tackle the president on the stalled case of Khuram Shaikh, the Milnrow man killed while on holiday 18 months ago

Rochdale's MP has found himself at the centre of an international diplomatic row with Sri Lanka's government.

Simon Danczuk, who is currently in the island nation on Parliamentary business, irked the country's leaders when he told a British newspaper that he planned to confront the president over the alleged cover-up of a murdered Milnrow aid worker.

The country's Ministry of External Affairs issued a terse statement saying it was 'inappropriate' for Mr Danczuk to reveal what issues he planned to raise with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, adding he was prejudging legal proceedings into Khuram Shaikh's death.

Officials in Colombo also kiboshed a planned meeting between Mr Danczuk and President Rajapaksa, which the Observer understand had been pencilled in to take place yesterday (Friday).

Mr Danczuk has now hit back, saying the diplomatic spat is 'a further sign' that leaders are attempting to stall efforts to bring those responsible for the brutal murder of 32-year-old Khuram to justice.

Despite the arrest of eight suspects in connection with the murder and an alleged attack on Khuram's girl friend in Tangalle in December 2011, no one has been charged by local police and no trial is pending.

Because one of the suspects is a key political ally of the president, fears have been raised that the government is attempting to shelve the case, a suggestion Mr Danczuk had said he planned to challenge the president with at the axed meeting.

Mr Danczuk, who is in Sri Lanka as part of a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation, said the row had left the case in limbo.

He said: “I never expected the president to answer questions about his alleged close links to the suspect involved in the killing of my constituent.

“But this is a further sign that the government is struggling to justify a lack of action in the case.

“It is over 18 months since Khuram was killed, no one has been charged and there is no trial date. This is not acceptable.

“Meanwhile Sri Lankan government ministers are clearly prejudicing any trial by making statements trying to play down the terrible assault that Khuram’s partner endured.

“Politicians are unable to answer questions on why the suspects of a terrible murder are on bail and they cannot give answers on why justice is moving so slowly.”

In a statement issued to newspapers in Sri Lanka, the country's External Affairs Ministry said Mr Danzcuk had jumped the gun by revealing what he planned to talk to the president about.

It said: “For any visiting delegate below the level of a head of state or government, a meeting with the president would be a privilege, as it would not be in keeping with accepted diplomatic protocol and is unthinkable in Western countries.

“Hence talking to the media about the issues that he will raise with the head of state even before such a meeting is scheduled is totally inappropriate.

“The British MP talks of 'concerns of a cover-up' with regard to the murder which is a prejudgment of a case that is still pending in courts.

“The government has condemned the murder of Khuram Shaikh and stated its commitment to punish the perpetrators and the process is underway.  In such a context, the statement by Mr Danczuk is pure speculation.”

Despite the row, Mr Danczuk was still set to meet Sri Lankan justice minister Rauff Hakeem as well as a range of other officials as part Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation he is currently on.
http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/local-news/rochdale-mp-sparks-diplomatic-dispute-5329824?

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