March 3, 2006

S.Lankans face murder trial after tsunami robbery

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Two Sri Lankan men accused of grabbing
a gold chain from a woman caught in the 2004 tsunami before
letting her be swept to her death will be put on trial for
murder, officials said on Friday.

Police said the two men had been in prison since January 13
last year on charges of theft, and would appear in court later
this month. Solicitor General C.R. de Silva decided to charge
them with murder after watching a video of the incident.

"We are filing an indictment," he told Reuters. The theft
was one of the highest profile crimes reported during the
tsunami, which killed some 35,000 people in Sri Lanka and
almost 230,000 around the Indian Ocean.

The video, widely shown in Sri Lanka after the disaster,
shows Mapalagamage Ruwan and Ajith Kumara standing on the roof
of the bus station in Galle, where hundreds drowned, as flood
waters sweep through.

They appear to pull 23-year-old Dineti Deshika from the
water, grab a golden necklace and then let her fall back into
the raging torrent. Her body was found when the waters receded.