First Tamil to be jailed in Canada for funding LTTE

Appearing in the British Columbia supreme court here on Tuesday, Toronto-based Prapaharan Thambithurai admitted raising money for the Tamil Tigers in 2008. Vancouver is the major city of British Columbia - the western-most province of Canada - with a huge concentration of the South Asian community.

The 46-year-old Sri Lankan Tamil, who came to Canada as a refugee in 1988, was arrested in 2008 for illegally raising funds for a banned terror outfit. The LTTE was banned along with many other terror outfits by Canada in 2006 after the new Conservative government took over.

He was arrested while seeking donations for the World Tamil Movement for relief work in Sri Lanka. But Canadian intelligence agencies found that the body was a front organization for the banned LTTE. Pleading guilty, the Sri Lankan Tamil admitted that half of the money raised for humanitarian  aid went to the LTTE.

His lawyer said his client had no option because any humanitarian aid for Tamils had to pass through the rebel-held area. Though he faces up to 10 years in jail for aiding a banned terror body, the prosecution has demanded just two years' term for him. He will be sentenced on Friday.

The verdict comes as the 300,000-strong Tamil Canadian community marks the first anniversary of the end of the Sri Lankan ethnic war by observing May 17-19 as 'Days of Remembrance' for the Tamils killed in what they described as 'war crimes against humanity' by Sri Lankan forces. Canada is home to the largest Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora outside the island nation, with most of them settled in the Toronto area.

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