A Sri Lankan LTTE financier in Canada is expected to plead guilty next week in a Canadian court and will then be sentenced, the Canadian media reported. The Sri Lankan man, who is the first man charged under Canada's anti-terrorism financing law, is expected to plead guilty next Tuesday, the Vancouver sun reported.
Prapaharan Thambithurai's trial was supposed to begin in B.C. Supreme Court yesterday, but Crown prosecutor Martha Devlin said a plea bargain has been struck.
And she asked Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie to put the matter over until Tuesday, May 11 for a formal plea entry and sentencing.
Thambithurai, accused of fundraising for the banned terrorist Tamil Tigers, was not in court today but his lawyer, Kathleen Bradley, confirmed that he will be present next Tuesday for the anticipated plea.
The 46-year-old Ontario man once headed a Vancouver non-profit, which the Canadian Security Intelligence Service alleged was a front for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Canada considers the LTTE a foreign terrorist organization.
Thambithurai, also known as "Prapa," was president of the Eelam Tamil Association of B.C. in the 1990s. Pathmoyohan Pillai, another former president of the B.C. association, confirmed in 2008 that Thambithurai had served as president of the group, which received more than $60,000 in provincial gaming money in the 1990s.
The provincial government ordered an audit of the group in 2000 after it was listed in a Canadian Security Intelligence Service report as a front for the Tamil Tigers.
Thambithurai had lived in Vancouver, where he took accounting courses through the University of B.C. and started a satellite TV installation business. He moved to Ontario five years ago with his wife and children.
He was charged more than two years ago with providing or making available "property or services for terrorist purposes." The alleged offence dates are March 11 to 14, 2008.
The Crown said at the time of the charges that the accused was in Vancouver to solicit donations and worked for the World Tamil Movement, which raises humanitarian funds for people in Sri Lanka. Police allege the movement is a front for the LTTE.
Canada outlawed terrorist financing following the 9/11 attacks and in 2006 the Conservatives listed the Tamil Tigers as an illegal terrorist group.
Police have been investigating suspected Tamil Tigers fundraising in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver for the past five years.
The major investigation is in Toronto, where RCMP counter-terrorism officers have been examining a truckload of materials seized from the headquarters of the World Tamil Movement.
"The WTM is an integral part of the LTTE strategy to raise funds for re-armament and to gain legitimacy as the sole representative of the Tamil people in the international community," the RCMP alleged in a court filing. But no charges had been laid until Thambithurai was arrested in March 2008.
He is a resident of Maple, Ont., north of Toronto, where he lives with his wife and three children. Canada is home to the world's largest expatriate Sri Lankan Tamil community. Both the RCMP and CSIS have alleged that front organizations based in Toronto have been secretly sending money to the Tigers to help the group buy weapons.
The Tigers have been fighting a long-standing guerrilla war against the Sri Lankan government for a separate state for the country's ethnic Tamil minority.