Singaporean faces US trial over Tamil Tigers arms case

SINGAPORE, November 3, 2009 (AFP) – A Singaporean opposition party member will be extradited to the United States and tried for allegedly trying to supply arms to Sri Lanka’s defeated Tamil Tiger rebels, officials here said Tuesday. Businessman Balldev Naidu, 47, is facing six charges including conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organisation and possession of a firearm in 2006, a court official told AFP.

The Singapore Police said Naidu was arrested on September 22 following a US extradition request.

He is alleged to have conspired with another Singaporean, Haniffa Osman, now serving a 37-month US jail term for trying to buy weapons for the Tamil Tigers, who were routed by Sri Lankan troops in May, the Straits Times reported.

The newspaper added that the US charges correspond to Singapore’s laws against financing of terrorist groups.

Naidu is a founding member of Singapore’s tiny opposition Reform Party but its secretary-general Kenneth Jeyaretnam said Tuesday that the US charges involved alleged activities before the party was set up in 2008.

He described Naidu as “a gentle family man and someone who would never intentionally become involved with terrorists or arms dealers.