Fiancee recounts brutal assault on her and says she regained consciousness only in hospital
Tkacheva Victoria Alexandra, the Russian fiancee of the British national killed in Tangalle on Christmas Day three years ago, told the Colombo High Court this week that she was brutally assaulted and pushed into the swimming pool as her would-be husband lay dead close by.She was testifying at the trial which commenced on Wednesday into the death of Khuram Shaikh, a British Red Cross worker.
Colombo High Court Judge Rohini Walgama is hearing the case.
Six persons including the Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman (UPFA) Sampath Vidanapathirana are charged with the murder of Shaikh, attempted murder of her fiancé and alleged gang rape of her. The others charged are Obada Arachchige Lahiru Kelum, U. Saman Deshapriya, Weerappulige Praneeth Chathuranga, Mohottige Sarath and Sarana Arachchi Patabendige Chanuka Chathuranga.
She told court that she was returning from the beach when she was beaten up and thrown into the hotel swimming pool and it was the first accused Kelum who prevented her from coming out of the pool.
“I managed to jump out of the pool and ran shouting ‘Khuram, Khuram’. As I was running I found Khuram fallen and he was bleeding. I tried to revive him, but failed. As I tried to carry him I fainted,” she told court speaking with the aid of a translator. The translation was done by Assistant Editor of the Sinhala Encyclopedia Ranjan Devamitta.
She said that she developed a friendship with Khuram when she was studying in a Korean university and specialised in the Korean language during her studies there which covered five years. She said they were living together for two years and were due to get married.
She said both of them arrived in Sri Lanka on December 17, 2011 and they had planned to stay at ‘the Nature’ in Tangalle for a three-week period. She said they travelled directly from the Katunayake airport to the hotel and spent most of the time at the hotel.
Victoria said on Christmas Eve the manageress extended an invitation to her to a party which was due to take place at the hotel to celebrate Christmas. She said earlier in the day she and Khuram helped to decorate the Christmas tree.
She said that when both of them came down to take part in the party around 40 guests had arrived and music was playing. She said they consumed liquor while taking their dinner. They also took to the dance floor.
“I saw Khuram was occupied speaking to a bar attendant so I walked up to the beach and returned and saw him still speaking to the bar attendant so I returned to the beach again. When I was returning for the second time I was attacked close to the pool. About four persons assaulted me. When I fell down they pushed me into the pool,” she said.
“I managed to jump out of the pool and as I was running away I found that Khuram had fallen. There were cut marks on his face. I shouted out his name, but he did not respond. When I tried to carry him I fainted,” Victoria said.
She said she regained consciousness only while being taken to (Tangalle) hospital. She said her dress was torn and so a T-shirt had been put on her to cover her body. She said she was experiencing severe pain in several parts of her body and after treatment she was transferred to the Karapitiya hospital where she underwent an operation. Two days later she was transferred to a private hospital in Colombo.
She said no one told her any details about Khuram but only told her he was receiving treatment in another hospital. However, she said when she inquired from the doctor at the private hospital he said that Khuram had been killed.
Ms. Victoria said that during the identification parade she was able to identify one of the suspects, but did not inform the court about it because she feared for her own safety.
However at the High Court she walked up to the suspect and pointed him out.
She told court that she had got an assurance from the Sri Lankan Government about her security and was told Interpol was also involved in the case. “Therefore I am not worried about my security now,” she added.Ministerial Security personnel were deployed for her protection while British High Commission officials were also present.
Testifying before court on the second day, Ms. Victoria said though she had not seen the persons who killed Khuram or the persons who raped her, she was convinced that it was done by the suspects who have been the accused in this case.
During cross-examination she said that she made her statement to the police when she was under severe mental stress and wanted the ordeal over as soon as possible.
She said her statement was not read over and explained to her in full
She said she had no trust in any person at that time as everyone had lied to her about Khuram’s real condition.
Senior State Counsel Thusith Mudalige appeared for the prosecution.
The first accused Lahiru Kelum was represented by Jayantha Weerasinghe, PC.
Attorneys Dilan Amarakoon, Ranjith Senanayake and Pradeep Jayakody appeared for W. Arachchige Lahiru Kelum alias Ravindra.
Attorneys Suresh Kariyawasam, Asith Siriwardana and Nalinda Indratissa appeared for Uduwanage Saman Deshapriya.
Kalinga Indratissa, PC., with Hemantha Gamage Chamika Hewapathirana and Niroshan Siriwardana appeared for Sampath Chandra Pushpa Widanapathirana.
Attorneys Suranga Munasinghe and Dhammika Hewapathirana appeared for Weerappulige Praneeth Chathuranga.
Attorneys Vikum Panagoda and U.R. De Silva appeared for Mohottige Sarath alias Sahan while counselor Rohana Deshapriya and Razeek Zarook, PC appeared for Sarana Arachchipatabedige Chanuka Chathuranga.