Tamil terror charges dropped

AUSTRALIA’S counter-terrorism laws have suffered another blow, with the dropping of terror charges against three Melbourne men accused of being members of the Tamil Tigers and providing funds to the Sri Lankan group.

Commonwealth prosecutors yesterday told the Victorian Supreme Court they would not be proceeding with nine terrorism charges from the criminal code against Aruran Vinayagamoorthy, 61, Sivarajah Yathavan, 38, and Arumugam Rajeevan, 48.

Instead the men — who have pleaded not guilty — will be tried on the remaining five charges of breaching the Charter of UN Act by making money available to a proscribed organisation.

The men face a maximum sentence of five years for each offence, compared with up to 25 years’ jail for the bulk of the nine federal terrorism charges.

A difficulty for the prosecution has been the status of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, more commonly known as the Tamil Tigers. The group has been proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the UN but not by Australian authorities.

In a bail hearing for the men in July 2007, Supreme Court judge Bernard Bongiorno cast doubt on the prosecution being able to convince a jury that the LTTE was a terrorist organisation because of this lack of classification. There is debate over whether the organisation is a terrorist body or a separatist group engaged in civil war.

Prosecutor Mark Dean SC told the court the commonwealth would soon file a new presentment of charges that would not include the nine terrorism offences under the criminal code.

He said the remaining five charges were all breaches of the UN Charter, in which the Tamil Tigers are proscribed as a terrorist organisation, so the prosecution is “not required to prove that element”.

Police originally charged Mr Vinayagamoorthy with three offences under the post-2001 federal counter-terrorism laws: intentionally being a member of a terrorist organisation between July 2004 and July 2007, making funds available to a terrorist organisation between May 2003 and May 2007, and intentionally providing a terrorist organisation resources from May 2003 and May 2007.

They alleged he helped the LTTE in their campaign against the Sri Lankan Government by raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in charitable donations in Australia.

Mr Vinayagamoorthy will now be charged with making money collected in Australia available to a proscribed entity, as well as providing the organisation with boat design software and electronic components.

His two co-accused were originally charged with being members of a terrorist organisation and making funds available to a terrorist organisation. Mr Yathavan was also charged with internationally providing support or resources to a terrorist organisation. They will be charged only with making money collected in Australia available to a proscribed entity.

Mr Dean told the court the prosecution case against three men had narrowed. “It’s simpler, much simpler,” he said.

Judge Paul Coghlan adjourned the case until Wednesday when prosecution and defence hope to set a trial date.

The federal counter-terrorism laws have attracted controversy in the past. They were used against Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef following his arrest at Brisbane airport in July 2007. Dr Haneef was ultimately cleared of any involvement in terrorism.

Source : The Australian

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: