Four Sri Lankans cleared of people trafficking in Canada

28 July 2017 10:00 am - 5     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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A Canadian court on Thursday acquitted four Sri Lankan migrants charged with smuggling 74 of Sri Lankan asylum seekers into in to Canada in 2009, The Canadian Press reported.

British Columbia Supreme Court judge Arne Silverman said that while there was evidence of organized crime in the smuggling operation, he wasn’t satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the men were connected to any crime. He also said the men were asylum seekers aboard the MV Ocean Lady get to asylum on the B.C. coast in October 2009.

“I have determined that these four accused were asylum seekers and that there is an air of reality to the defence of mutual aid.”

The accused — Francis Anthonimuthu Appulonappa, Hamalraj Handasamy, Jeyachandran Kanagarajah and Vignarajah Thevarajah — smiled, laughed and shook hands with their lawyers after the judge released his ruling.

The Crown had argued the four accused were in charge of the smuggling operation and out to make a profit on people seeking asylum in Canada.

But Silverman said the Crown didn’t prove its case.

“I am also not satisfied that their actions were to obtain either directly or indirectly a financial or material benefit, or that any of them obtained one.”

The men were part of a group of 76 young men from Sri Lanka who arrived on B.C.’s coast in October 2009.

They travelled about 45 days across the Pacific Ocean seeking refuge in Canada from a civil war that ravaged their homeland, Silverman said in his decision.

Defence lawyers told the trial their clients were trying to escape poor living conditions and seeking a better life.

In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that people providing humanitarian aid, including family members, were exempt from smuggling laws.

But the Crown told the trial that the top court’s exemptions didn’t apply because the accused had a role in organizing and executing the voyage, which it said was a money-making scheme costing migrants thousands of dollars.

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  • ceylon Friday, 28 July 2017 10:57 AM

    those days it was not people smugling.it was saving lives from death.over obe million lankans alive today in canada and europe due due these resque and helps. via DM Android App

    JK Friday, 28 July 2017 03:16 PM

    Very True

    Don Juan Friday, 28 July 2017 11:48 AM

    They should came back and send another two ship loads as a trial.

    Bala Friday, 28 July 2017 02:35 PM

    How about starting with 225 that are a disgrace called out MPs who even today did nothig atall but we had to foot the bill with them claiming money that they s(H)at in Parliament today.

    Lord Wolfstein Friday, 28 July 2017 02:50 PM

    A good decision of a wise judge in a liberal and democratic country. The initiators of this voyage have saved many lives.


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