Khuram Shaikh death: Sri Lankan politician and three men jailed

Khuram Shaikh
Image caption Red Cross worker Khuram Shaikh was shot and stabbed while on holiday in Tangalle

A Sri Lankan politician has been convicted and jailed for killing a British aid worker.

Red Cross worker Khuram Shaikh, 32, from Rochdale, was shot and stabbed at a hotel while on holiday in Sri Lanka on Christmas Day in 2011.

He was killed when he tried to break up a fight.

Sampath Vidanapathirana was jailed for 20 years for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, along with three other men.

Lahiru Kelum, U. Sama Deshapriya and Praneeth Chathuranga who were convicted of Mr Shaikh's killing with the former council leader were all also found guilty of raping a woman.

Image copyright Azzam Ameen/BBC
Image caption Former Tangalle council leader Sampath Vidanapathirana was jailed for 20 years

Judge Rohini Walgama said: "I finished this case in three-and-a-half months, it's a historical win.

"I have given this judgment by taking into account the evidence that was led in accordance with my conscience."

Lawyers for the men told the BBC they would appeal against the verdicts.

Two men, Mohottige Sarath and Chanuka Chathuranga, were acquitted of the charges at the High Court in Colombo.

'Symbolic moment'

Mr Shaikh's brother Nasser said: "The country has done what many people hoped and prayed for.

"Those who killed my brother have been punished and are now behind bars for a long time."

Mr Shaikh had been working in Gaza fitting prosthetic limbs, but was holidaying in the resort of Tangalle when he was killed while trying to break up a fight.

The trial had been delayed for over two years amid allegations of interference because of Vidanapathirana's political connections, but there was pressure from the UK government for the trial to go ahead.

The judge added: "I faced more insults than the accused or the prosecutors during this trial."

Mr Shaikh's brother said: "Our campaign was not only about justice, but to bring awareness of the wonderful work my brother did around the world, working in humanitarian aid.

"He is a true inspiration for many and we hope his legacy continues with those he left behind.

"Today is a symbolic moment: A day the country delivered justice, a day I delivered my promise to a brother."

A statement from the British High Commission in Colombo said: "We hope that this will bring some closure for his family and friends who have faced a long and difficult fight for justice.

"We will continue to monitor any developments in the case closely."

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