British woman raped in Sri Lanka speaks out



London: A British student raped at a hotel in Sri Lanka in 2011 has spoken for the first time of the attack that also killed her British boyfriend, media reported on Sunday.

Waiving her anonymity as a rape victim, the 24-year-old has said she is afraid that the perpetrators of the crime will go unpunished on account of their political connections, the Sunday Times reported.

The report alleges that one of the suspects is a local politican whose family has close ties to the Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The victim, a Russian language graduate, was holidaying in December 2011 at the Nature Resort in Tangalle near Colombo with her boyfriend Khuram Shaikh, a 32-year-old Red Cross worker from Rochdale when the incident happened.

She has alleged that she was beaten up by a group of men who were at the hotel party on Christmas Eve, and pushed into a swimming pool.

The victim, who suffered a fractured skull, managed to get out of the pool and found Shaikh lying unresponsive on the ground, after which she blacked out.

The media report stated it is suspected that she was raped at this point and was found naked and unconscious in a room at the hotel on Christmas morning.

Her own memory is of waking up in a hospital finding her dress to be blood-splattered and her underwear missing.

Her face was badly swollen and her body was covered in bruises. A Sri Lankan police report said she had been raped or sexually assaulted and had suffered vaginal injuries.

The eight suspects, identified through witness accounts, include Sampath Chandra Pushpa Vidanapathirana, the head of the local council in Tangalle, one of the largest towns in Sri Lanka's southern province.

The Times report claims his family as having links with President Rajapaksa.

While there has been no suggestion that Rajapaksa or members of Vidanapthirana's family have intervened in the case, the victim's relatives believe there has been a lack of urgency during the investigation.

All the suspects were released on bail without charge last November. "I was devastated when the men were freed on bail," she added.

The victim also says that her missing underwear has never been found and her dress was thrown away, which could have provided police with DNA evidence.

There is currently no prospect of a trial, but the 24-year-old insisted that she will not rest until justice is done.

"I know if Khuram was in my place he would go on to the end," she said. "That's what I must do too."

Last month the Sri Lankan government said it was awaiting a report on DNA evidence and had made every effort to find those involved.

PTI