Jail Term

VANCOUVER, May 14, 2010 (AFP) – A judge sentenced a Tamil Tiger fundraiser to six months in jail here Friday after the man pleaded guilty to raising money in Canada to help support the Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka. Powers reviewed Thambithurai’s story, from his move to Canada in 1988 as a young refugee following the deaths of his father and brother during Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war, to the fact he has no criminal record and is married with three children.

Thambithurai is considered to be of “good character” and was near the bottom of the Tigers fund-raising organization, noted Powers. But, he added, the LTTE “relies on many small contributions.”

While the terrorist-financing case was the first in Canada, the Tamil Tigers “war tax” collected from expatriate refugees has long been contentious elsewhere.

Cases were successfully prosecuted for 27 years in Italy, Germany, France and Australia, said terrorism expert John Thompson of the Mackenzie Institute. “This is a serious offence,” said Justice Robert Powers, noting the “great harm to all Sri Lankans” from the violence of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Prapaharan Thambithurai, 46, was the first person to be charged under new Canadia