Investigation Discovery’s ‘Death On The Beach: Sri Lanka: Death At The Beach’ chronicles the brutal murder of British native Khuram Shaikh Zaman, 32, who worked with the International Committee of the Red Cross. He and his girlfriend had embarked on a vacation to celebrate Christmas in Tangalle, Sri Lanka, in mid-December 2011. However, Khuram was killed during the Christmas Eve party, and the episode depicts how the erstwhile ruling party tried to intervene and save the suspects owing to one of the killers being a former local politician.
Who Was Khuram Shaikh Die?
Born in 1979 and raised in Rochdale, Lancashire, Khuram was the third among siblings, alongside his older sister Hanna and younger sister Herra. Reflecting on Khuram’s character, Herra shared, “Khuram was a cheerful individual, perpetually adorned with a smile. His playful nature and penchant for making others laugh defined him.” He readily befriended people, going above and beyond for others. This innate quality became increasingly evident as he grew older. The sister noted her brother’s natural inclination towards a compassionate profession.
In 2000, at 21, Khuram enrolled in the prosthetics and orthotics program at Salford University. Joe Wilkinson, his university lecturer, recalled him as an intelligent and dedicated young man committed to his studies. As Khuram delved into university life, a passion for exploration blossomed within him, sparking conversations about his desire to see the world, understand various cultures and meet people from every walk of life. After graduation, Khuram approached Joe, requesting a chance to work overseas, especially in wartorn areas.
Joe recounted his student’s passion for welfare organizations like the Red Cross and the Red Crescent. Khuram, then 30, started working as a physical rehabilitation program manager for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 2009. He had to travel to countries like North Korea, Ethiopia, and then Gaza in September 2010. His job was to help people who had lost limbs in war. Despite working in war zones, he and his family felt safe since he was part of a worldwide renowned organization.
How Did Khuram Shaikh Die?
Khuram paid his family in Rochdale a surprise visit in October 2011, informing them he would be there only for four days as he was going on a vacation to Sri Lanka in Christmas 2011. Nestled in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka, often called the ‘Emerald Isle,’ is a multifaceted gem in South Asia. Despite its classification as a relatively small island, Sri Lanka unfolds a diverse tapestry for the exploration of tourists, boasting jungles, hills, tea plantations, and ancient ruins that collectively offer a sensory feast.
In pursuit of an idyllic Sri Lankan holiday, Khuram, 32, embarked on this adventure with his Russian girlfriend, Victoria Alexandrovna, in late December 2011. He traveled to the country on December 15 to begin his two-week break in the popular beach destination of Tangalle on the southern coast. He and Victoria celebrated Christmas Eve at the Nature Resort premises in Medilla, Tangalle, with over 60 others comprising locals and tourists. Among the residents was a local position who held influence in the erstwhile ruling party.
According to eyewitnesses, Khuram attempted to save a man from the clutches of the politician and his lackeys during a drunken brawl on the party floor. The politician, Sampath Chandra Pushpa Vidanapathirana, then 24, held the position of Chairman of the Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha. The individual whom Khuram was trying to assist was Denegama Vitharana Ryan Akalanka, then 27, who claimed to be the owner of a nearby resort. He stated he had come to Nature Resort to meet a friend and accidentally bumped against one of the drunk lackeys.
Denegama alleged, “While leaving, I knocked against a drunk man. He started assaulting me, followed by others with flower pots and bottles.” He continued, stating that the foreigner, referring to Khuram, attempted to intervene and shield him from the attackers. Denegama added, “I managed to escape and run onto the beach. Sadly, in the morning, when I came to pick up my motorcycle that I had left behind, I heard that the man who came to my rescue had been killed.” Khuram’s partner, Victoria, was also assaulted and dragged onto the beach.
News sources revealed the 23-year-old Russian national was found lying in the sand with her clothes torn. She was first admitted to the Matara Hospital and then transferred to the Intensive Care Unit of the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital in Galle with severe head and bodily injuries. Dr. Jayampathi Senanayake, Director of Karapitiya Teaching Hospital, stated, “She was admitted with head injuries as a result of the assault and underwent surgery at the Intensive Care Unit.” After her surgery, Victoria was shited to a private Colombo clinic.
Khuram’s autopsy report showed that he had been attacked with a sharp weapon before the perpetrators shot him with an automatic rifle. However, the medical examiner noted the official cause of death was excessive bleeding caused by a slit in the throat. On January 3, 2012, Nasir, then 40, flew out to Sri Lanka to meet with the local authorities and repatriate his brother’s body. He traveled to Colombo to help take back Khuram’s body with the help of the Red Cross and the British Foreign Office. His funeral was conducted on January 6.
Where Is Sampath Chandra Now?
According to some local news reports, Sampath and seven others had surrendered to the police by January 1, 2012, with the Criminal Investigation Department taking over the probe. Sampath’s private secretary Mohottige Saman, Nalagama Pradeep Chaturanga, Saman Deshapriya, Obada Arachchige Lasitha, Niroshan Weerakoon, Manoj Prasanna, and Buddhika Pradeep were among those in custody. Deputy Economic Development and Tourism Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena even assured a fair and transparent inquiry would take place.
Despite the reassurance, the show cited how none of the suspects were charged and they were eventually released after short detention periods. Nasir stated the bullet casings found on the scene linked Sampath to his brother’s murder. However, with the perpetrators being close to the erstwhile Sri Lankan president, Khuram’s family feared the investigation would soon turn cold. Their fears turned true as Sampath’s trial started to get delayed and continued so for over two years amid allegations of interference from the erstwhile Sri Lankan government.
However, the UK government kept pressurizing Sri Lanka until Sampath was jailed for 20 years for culpable homicide not amounting to murder in late July 2014. The former council member’s three lackeys — Lahiru Kelum, U. Sama Deshapriya, and Praneeth Chathuranga — were convicted of both murder and rape. The four convicts later withdrew their appeal in March 2019, while two men — Mohottige Sarath and Chanuka Chathuranga — were acquitted of the charges. Sampath, 36, is presumably incarcerated in some Colombo prison.