Govt. reiterates law will prevail over Tangalle tourist tragedy
- Attacked woman reportedly denies rape; blames on being in wrong place at wrong time; Family to be flown in at Sri Lanka Tourism expense for care
By Cheranka Mendis
The Government yesterday reiterated those responsible for the killing of British tourist and causing injury to his Russian partner will be severely dealt with as per the law whilst the latter has shed some light on the Tangalle tragedy over the weekend.
“The main suspect, Tangalle Pradesheeya Sabha Chairman Sampath Vidanapathirana, if found guilty, will be punished severely,” Deputy Economic Development Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena told journalists yesterday. “The Government will in no way try to protect the suspects or hide facts from the public. Those proven guilty will be punished according to law,” he asserted.
He also said that within 48 hours, five suspects had been arrested and weapons used in committing the crime had been taken into custody.
Victoria Alexandrovna, who was injured in the Tangalle tourist murder incident, is said to have told Sri Lankan Ambassador in Moscow Udayanga Weeratunga that her injuries were not part of a deliberate act by any person but that “she was at the wrong place at the wrong time”.
Weeratunga told journalist that upon a visit made to Lanka Hospitals to assess her condition, she had expressed that nothing had been deliberate and that it was a matter of wrong timing.
He stated that this has been Alexandrovna’s second visit to Sri Lanka. Her first visit had been in February this year, when she is said to have travelled to Nuwara Eliya, Sigiriya, Dambulla and Mirissa
“She said that she was at the wrong place at the wrong time. The CID is waiting to take her statement as soon as possible,” he said.
Her health condition is being closely monitored by officials from both Russia and Sri Lanka. The Russian party has expressed satisfaction over the progress and the treatments conducted. She is being treated under heavy security since she is the only eyewitness to the event, Sri Lanka Tourism Managing Director Rumy Jaufer said.
On the subject of alleged sexual assault Alexandrovna had supposedly undergone, Jaufer said that she had not complained of any such incident and had not reported anything in that regard.
However, the medical report which is due soon will be able to clarify all details, he added.
“Sri Lanka Tourism has offered to bring down the family of Alexandrovna to care for her during her period of treatment, with all expenses paid. She has expressed her gratitude over the news.”
Meanwhile, eight Police teams have been dispatched to carry out an investigation into the incident. The possessions of both Alexandrovna and her partner, British holidaymaker Kuram Shaikah Zaman (27) who was murdered in the incident on 24 December, are in the custody of the Police, he said.
Sri Lanka Tourism has also sent out three teams to regulate matters in Tangalle and other areas nearby, including Galle. All rest houses and such institutions that have not been registered post-tsunami will be checked and regulated or disqualified, he noted.
“We must now make sure that the incident does not affect our industry. We must handle it with responsibility,” Economic Development Deputy Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said.
Stating that the incident came at a time when the industry was making headlines with records being broken and targets being surpassed, the Minister said: “By 24 November we recorded 800,000 tourist arrivals and by 23 December, 819,000 arrivals. The industry has started many restoration projects. There are 10 tourist hotels being built in Passikudah and infrastructure is being provided by the Government. During such a time, such incidents are condemned.”