Sri Lankan politician held over Briton's death

29th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

A ruling party politician has been remanded in custody in connection with the killing of a British tourist at a beach resort in southern Sri Lanka over Christmas, a minister said Thursday.

The politician surrendered following a manhunt for those responsible for the Christmas Day killing of Kuram Shaikah Zaman, a British national of Israeli origin, acting Economic Development Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said.

He said eight police teams had been deployed to investigate the killing as well as the wounding of the victim's Russian companion who was recovering at a hospital in the capital Colombo.

"I can assure you that there will be no cover-up and all steps are being taken to ensure justice is done," Abeywardena said.

He said the victims appeared to have tried to intervene to break up a brawl between two local groups when they were stabbed and shot at a beach hotel in the southern town of Tangalle.

The government on Thursday offered to fly in the family members of the Russian woman involved in the attack, the minister said.

"We are taking care of her medical bills and we are also offering to bring down any of her family members to be with her until she is able to travel back home," he said.

He said the attack had come at a time when Sri Lanka's tourism industry was experiencing a record inflow of foreign holiday makers.

"The British and Russian diplomatic missions in Colombo have accepted that this was a random attack," he said. "It is a very unfortunate incident and we take it very seriously, but we hope it will not have an effect on arrivals."

Sri Lanka has received over 800,000 visitors this year with the number of holidaymakers visiting island rising rapidly after the country ended its decades-long separatist war in May 2009.

Up to 100,000 people were killed in the island's separatist war.

© 2011 AFP

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