Singaporean on trial in US on material support charges
[TamilNet, Monday, 11 October 2010, 01:36 GMT]
William Purpura, the court appointed attorney for Singaporean Balraj Naidu, will be defending his client at the federal district court in Baltimore Tuesday, against charges of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), according to court docket on the case. The conspiracy charge follows guilty pleas and subsequent sentencing of four other "co-conspirators" sentencing ranging from 30 months to 57 months during latter part of 2008. Naidu's trial will last 3 to 4 days, and to be convicted, as in federal jury trials, the 12-person jury must unanimously return a guilty verdict.
US Government documents indicate that another defendant, Thulasitharan Santhirajah, is in custody in Australia fighting extradition to the U.S.
United States Government dropped four of the six charges originally filed against Naidu as the Singaporean Government approved only to the following two charges when Naidu was extradited from Singapore in December 2009.
- COUNT II: Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to an FTO, in violation of 18 USC 2339(B)(a)(1); and
- COUNT VI: Possession of a Firearm in Furtherence of a Crime of Violence, in violation of 18 USC 924(c).
Naidu filed motion to dismiss on 19th April 2010, claiming that "Naidu is a foreign national who engaged in conduct entirely on foreign soil, which conduct was never intended to involve the US, until the US initiated such conduct, which conduct was alleged to have been intended to aid an organization with no apparent terrorist aims against the US." Therefore, Naidu argued that the charges should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction in violation of the due process clause of the 5th amendment.
On count VI, Naidu argued that the charge is "multiplicitous," where in this case the the possession of a "quantity of weapons" was not in furtherence of the conspiracy; it was the goal of the conspiracy.
Judge Catherine C Blake denied defendant's motion for Count II, and reserved motion as to Count VI.
On the material support charge, the US Government has the burden to prove, and to convince the jury, that the defendant had knowledge that the organization:
- has been designated an FTO, or
- engages, or has engaged in "terrorism" [defined in Immigration and nationality act 212(a)(3)(B)] or " terrorist activity" [defined in 140(d)(2) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act].
The details of Naidu's alleged co-conspirators are: Haniffa Bin Osman, age 57, a citizen of the Republic of Singapore - 37 months, Erick Wotulo, age 61, a citizen of the Republic of Indonesia, and a retired Indonesian Marine Corps General - 30 months in prison, Haji Subandi, age 71, a citizen of the Republic of Indonesia- 37 months, and Thirunavukarasu Varatharasa, age 36, a citizen of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka- 57 months in prison.