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Canadian gets two years prison for helping Tamil Tigers

A Canadian who helped a Sri Lankan terrorist group acquire “sophisticated military technology” was sentenced by a New York judge Monday to two years imprisonment.

Suresh Sriskandarajah, 33, also known as “Waterloo Suresh,” had pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to provide material support to the terrorist organization, LTTE.

In pre-sentencing arguments, he had asked to be released immediately with time served, but U.S. prosecutors had sought a 15-year prison term, saying he had committed a “gravely serious offence.”

He has already spent about 10 months in U.S. custody while his case worked its way through the courts. That means he could be held until as late as December 2014. He will be deported to Canada once his sentenced has been served.

The former president of the Tamil Students Association at University of Waterloo, where he studied engineering, Sriskandarajah was arrested in Toronto in 2006 following a joint RCMP-FBI investigation into the networks that were supplying weapons, money and equipment to the Tamil Tigers.

In December, he was extradited to New York to stand trial on charges related to his alleged attempts to “procure sophisticated military technology” for the rebels between 2004 and 2006.

A sentencing report filed with the court by defence lawyer Joshua Dratel said that Sriskandarajah’s “extraordinary background, character and accomplishments, as well as certain unique elements of the case, more than justify a sentence of ‘time served.’”

The report cited Sriskandarajah’s traumatic upbringing during the Sri Lankan civil war and his “stellar record of achievement,” which includes degrees in engineer, business administration and the arts. He was completing a law degree at the University of Ottawa when he was extradited.

Since his extradition to the U.S., Sriskandarajah has written his law school exams and “singlehandedly resuscitated” the tutoring programs at the Brooklyn detention centre where he was held.

“Suresh’s background, history, and character demonstrate that his criminal conduct represents an aberration in a life dedicated to family, education and community,” his lawyer wrote.

The lawyer also referred to letters of support written by NDP MPs Craig Scott, Rathika Sitsabaiesan and Peter Julian. In his letter, Mr. Scott described Sriskandarajah as “full of the desire to help others and of intelligence in equal measure.”

Suresh “sought out” the Toronto-Danforth MP for help with a Sri Lankan human rights campaign, and the two “became well-acquainted when Suresh volunteered with MP Scott’s campaign to serve in the House of Commons,” the sentencing report said.

“MP Scott writes that because of his ‘impressive educational accomplishments,’ Suresh ‘truly stand[s] out as a role model’ for young Canadian Tamils, who are ‘amongst the most socially and educationally disadvantaged group’ in Canadian society.

“MP Scott’s experience with Suresh assures him that, ‘if given the chance, he will give back — as husband, as citizen, as humanitarian,’” according to the report. - National Post

Posted on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 @ 16:24:00 LKT by

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