A couple of days ago, a special CID team arrested the Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Sampath Chandra Pushpa Vidanapathirana who has been charged with the murder of British national Khuram Shaikh. Police said the suspect had been in hiding at the time of arrest.
On January 9, the Colombo High Court issued an arrest warrant against Vidanapathirana, who hails from the stronghold of the Rajapaksa family, for not appearing in court for the trial into the murder of Shaikh and the sexual assault on the victim’s Russian girlfriend at a holiday resort in Tangalle in December 2011.
Many would say the timing of the arrest of Vidanapathirana is impeccable. As some of the members of President Rajapaksa’s government have already admitted, Sri Lanka is likely to face ‘big challenges’ in the upcoming UNHRC sessions in Geneva in March.
The case against Vidanapathirana has been a thorn in the government’s side when defending allegations on human rights, rule of law and good governance in the country.
"Though the incident took place on Christmas Eve in 2011, the indictments against Vidanapathirana and six others were only issued in October last year, just before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Colombo"
Though the incident took place on Christmas Eve in 2011, the indictments against Vidanapathirana and six others were only issued in October last year, just before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Colombo. Again, the timing was impeccable as media reported that the visiting Britsh Prime Minister David Cameron and Prince Charles were planning to take up the matter with the Sri Lankan government. Until then, despite the pressure from the British government and other international agencies, no charges were framed against Vidanapathirana.
Like indicting Vidanapathirana just before CHOGM, this time too the government has shown that it is championing the cause of human rights and rule of law by arresting him months before the upcoming UNHRC sessions.
Although resolutions at UNHRC on Sri Lanka cannot be justified, the government should immediately address the local concerns regarding the rule of law and good governance to prevent outside forces from pointing the finger at it.