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Politician accused of killing Rochdale man goes missing in Sri Lanka

by Daniel Hewitt - Political Reporter
Khuram Shaikh died on Christmas Day in 2011. Credit: ITV Granada

An arrest warrant has been issued for a Sri Lankan politician accused of killing a man from Rochdale.

Sampath Vidanapathiranage is charged, along with five men, of murdering aid worker Khuram Shaikh and sexually assaulting his Russian girlfriend while on holiday in the country in December 2011.

Sampath Vidanapathiranage outside court in Colomba in November Credit: Lankika

Vidanapathiranage, who has close ties with the Sri Lankan president, went missing on Thursday after failing to attend a court appearance ahead of the trial on March 26th.

Police are now hunting for the politician, who denies all the charges against him.

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'Ethnicity a factor in grooming' - Rochdale MP

Ethnicity is a factor in on-street grooming cases, a Labour MP representing the town at the centre of a major child exploitation case has said.

Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk criticised police for saying the case of nine Asian men convicted for grooming and abusing white girls was not a racial issue.

Mr Danczuk said there was "no doubt" that ethnicity was a factor in such cases.

Similar abuse is still continuing in the town, he told a radio station.

In terms of whether it is still going on I suspect it probably is.

The intelligence that I receive as a Member of Parliament, and I keep my ear close to the ground, is that this sort of abuse is still occurring.

"Having said that I think the various agencies involved are more alert to it and are doing more about it. I would also say that I think it is still going on not just in places like Rochdale but right across the country."

– Simon Danczuk, Member of Parliament for Rochdale

We still need a breakthrough, I think, in terms of the Asian community.

"I think there has to be some acknowledgement. I think there has been some denial in terms of this being a problem and I've seen that over the last couple of years there's been a tendency not to want to speak about it in terms of ethnicity.

"I think that's been unhelpful. There is still more to be done I think."

– Simon Danczuk, Member of Parliament for Rochdale

Trial of six men accused of killing Rochdale man in Sri Lanka adjourned until March 2014

by Daniel Hewitt - Political Reporter
Khuram Shaikh was killed on Christmas Day 2011 Credit: ITV News

The trial in Sri Lanka of a local politician accused of murdering an aid worker from Sri Lanka has been adjourned until March 2014.

Sampath Chandra Pushpa and five others are charged with the murder of Khruam Shaikh at a hotel in Tangelle on Christmas Day 2011.

The men have once again been granted bail by the Colombo High Court based on the bail granted by the Tangalle Magistrate’s Court earlier.

The judge Kumudini Wickramasinghe issued notice 11 witnesses to appear in court on March 26th when the case is due to begin.

PM promises progress on Rochdale murder case

by Daniel Hewitt - Political Reporter

The Prime Minister David Cameron says he will put pressure on the Sri Lankan president over the unsolved murder of an aid worker from Rochdale.

Khuram Shaikh was stabbed and shot while on holiday in the country on Christmas Day, 2011.

WATCH: Prime Minister responding to question by Simon Danczuk MP at PMQ's today

Eight men were quickly arrested, including a close friend of the Sri Lankan president, but no trial date has been set and little progress has been made.

Responding to a question by Simon Danczuk MP in the House of Commons, Mr Cameron said he'll raise the Rochdale MP's fears of a cover-up when he meets within the head of the Sri Lankan government next month.

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