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Murder trial opens in Sri Lanka after Western pressure over delay

Published on Mar 27, 2014 12:50 AM

COLOMBO (REUTERS) - Six men went on trial in Sri Lanka on Wednesday on charges they murdered a British aid worker and gang-raped his Russian fiancee, following two years of international pressure to prosecute the defendants, who include a member of the country's ruling party.

Khuram Shaikh, a 32-year-old Red Cross worker based in Gaza, was shot and stabbed to death at a hotel while on holiday in 2011. Victoria Tkacheva was beaten unconscious before being sexually assaulted, according to hospital and police records.

Giving evidence at the opening of the trial on Wednesday, Ms Tkacheva identified one of the accused, saying he had kicked her face and head repeatedly by the hotel pool.

The six accused included Sampath Vidanapathirana, head of the town council in Tangalle, where the couple were staying, and a supporter of President Mahinda Rajapaksa's party.

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