A Sri Lankan man accused of bringing hundreds of Tamil asylum seekers into Canada illegally has been granted bail after more than six years in jail, the Record said today.
A British Colombia Supreme Court judge ruled on Thursday that Kunarobinson Christhurajah does not have to remain in custody while awaiting a new trial over allegations of human smuggling.
Last week, a jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case of Christhurajah, who is accused of organizing the voyage of the MV Sun Sea, a rickety cargo ship that transported 492 Tamil asylum seekers from Thailand to Canada in August 2010.
The jury found three other men not guilty.
Christhurajah's wife, Mary Patrishiya, sobbed outside the courtroom after learning the result of the bail hearing.
"I have no words," she said
Christhurajah's six-year-old daughter was with her mother outside court on Thursday. The girl was born months after the couple arrived in Canada aboard the Sun Sea.
"Nobody here. No friends. No family. I was pregnant. I had hardship the last six years," his wife said. "But I forgot everything in this moment."
The criminal trial against the four co-accused began in October and lasted four months.
The Crown argued Christhurajah was the owner of the Sun Sea based on evidence that he rented office space in Bangkok in 2008 and 2009 under a fake name on behalf of Sun & Rashiya Co., the company that officially owned the vessel.
Christhurajah's lawyer told the trial there was no evidence his client profited from his actions and the Crown had failed to prove he hadn't acted for a humanitarian purpose, the Vancouver Sun reported.
Christhurajah's bail conditions include to keep the peace, to report weekly to a bail supervisor and to refrain from contact with any of the three co-accused with whom he stood trial. He has also been ordered to pay a $10,000 recognizance.
Outside court, Christhurajah's lawyer said a new trial date has not been set for his client.