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David Cameron pledges to raise death of British tourist Khuram Shaikh with Sri Lankan President

2013 Oct 10

The Prime Minister said he would personally raise concerns with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa over a suspected murder cover-up in 2011 during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Khuram Shaikh, a 32-year-old Red Cross aid worker from Rochdale, had been in Sri Lanka to rest after an assignment in Gaza, when he and his Russian girlfriend were attacked by eight men in a hotel bar in Tangalle, on the south coast.

One of the men accused of the attack is a prominent figure in Mr Rajapaksa’s Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP).

Raising the case, Simon Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale, said: “Justice continues to be denied and the key suspect is a close ally of the Sri Lankan President.

“Is the Prime Minister comfortable meeting this president at the Commonwealth head so of Government next month and what will he say to him?”

Mr Cameron replied: “Thank you for the question. I think it is right that for the British Prime Minister to go to the Commonwealth conference because we are big believers in the Commonwealth and making that organisation work well and indeed work for us.

“But I think that it is right in going to the Commonwealth conference we should not hold back in being very clear about those aspects of the human rights record in Sri Lanka that we are not happy with.

“If he gives me the details of that case I will make sure that along with other cases and other arguments those points are properly made. Of course those are points that you can’t make if you don’t go.”

Mr Shaikh was stabbed in the throat and shot dead after he complained about the men sexually harassing his girlfriend as they enjoyed a drink in the early hours of Christmas Day 2011. His girlfriend was beaten unconscious and gang-raped, according to Sri Lankan police.

The Government’s chief whip Dinesh Gunawardena recently denied that the victim’s girlfriend, Victoria Tkacheva, had been raped – despite clear forensic evidence.

Britain and the United States have voiced serious concerns about the brutality of the attack and delays in the investigation while highlighting the increasing number of violent and sexual assaults in the country. Human Rights groups say the case reflects a culture of impunity throughout South Asia. 

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