(January 02, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) While the tourism industry in Sri Lanka struggled to contain the negative fall-out from the murder of a 32-year old British tourist, Shaikah Zaman, and attack on his Russian girl friend, Victoria Alexandrovna, in Tangalle, Sri Lanka, a local bar owner and eye-witness told Sunday Leader that the attackers “stripped and raped her [Alexandronova] mercilessly although she was bleeding from her head. Later I saw Zaman [British tourist] lying on the lawn next to the restaurant but did not know whether he was dead or alive.” Earlier, Sri Lanka’s deputy economic development minister, Lakshman Abeywardene, summarily dismissed the rape reports as false.
Police say the Chairman of the Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha, Sampath Vidanapathirana, a close associate of ruling SLFP politicians.
Sunday Leader also reported that many eye-witnesses wished to remain anonymous as they fear for their lives. “Informants willingly spoke to the newspaper with a desire to educate the people about the true state of affairs in Tangalle over the past few years,” the paper said, adding, many locals have told the paper that “Tangalle and Hambantota are becoming the most dangerous cities” in Sri Lanka.
According the primary eye-witness, “I was dancing with two foreign girls. The altercation began because none of the foreign girls wanted to dance with Vidanapathirana. He and his companions then assaulted me and a brawl broke out. It was at this time that Zaman and his friend rushed to the scene from the pool side. When the British tourist tried to settle the fight, Vidanapathirana attacked Zaman with broken bottles,” the eye witness told the paper.
Hotel staff was prevented from leaving the premises and were held inside the hotel for three days, as a measure to control information spreading out to the media according to the paper.
Locals alleged that the police failed to arrest the main suspect even while the police knew the suspect’s whereabouts. Police were fearful of suspect’s connections to high-level politicians, locals added.