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Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 04.57 GMT
Canadian court upholds LTTE fundraising sentence

 

British Columbia’s Court of Appeal has rejected the Crown’s bid to overturn a six-month sentence given to a Vaughan man convicted of fund-raising for the LTTE.

Prapaharan “Prapa” Thambithurai, 47, of Maple, was convicted and sentenced in B.C. in May for providing financial services, knowing they would benefit LTTE, the Canadian media reported.

Thambithurai pleaded guilty to the charge in what became Canada’s first successful prosecution of knowingly raising funds for the LTTE.

In a 3-0 ruling released yesterday, the B.C. Court of Appeal rejected the Crown’s appeal, ruling the six-month sentence fit the crime.

The facts and Thambithurai’s personal circumstances were properly considered during his trial, the B.C. appeals court said in its ruling.

Only weeks after the sentence was handed down, the federal government said it would appeal, claiming the sentence was “inappropriate and inadequate”.

During the criminal case, the Crown argued Mr. Thambithurai should be sentenced to two years.

The charge carries a maximum 10-year sentence.

But Mr. Thambithurai was ordered to serve a sentence that would ordinarily be viewed as a harsh penalty for a first offender, the B.C. appeals court ruled.

Thambithurai has been freed after serving his sentence. Mr. Thambithurai went to a home in Burnaby, B.C. March 13, 2008 and asked a man to contribute money for humanitarian aid to help the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, according to a statement of facts from the criminal case, The man gave Mr. Thambithurai $600 cash, for which a receipt was issued.

That same day, he requested money from another man in Burnaby and received a $300 pledge, but no cash, according to the statement of facts.

He was later arrested.

Mr. Thambithurai admitted to police he travelled to B.C. to collect money for residents of Sri Lanka. The money was intended for the World Tamil Movement, Mr. Thambithurai told police. Ottawa considers the Tamil Tigers and the World Tamil Movement terrorist groups.

As much as half of the money raised would end up in the hands of the Tamil Tigers, Mr. Thambithurai admitted.






 

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