Jury finds Singaporean guilty of material support to FTO

[TamilNet, Sunday, 24 October 2010, 14:42 GMT]
Baltimore, Maryland jury Monday returned a guilty verdict on Balraj Naidu, a Singaporean tried in the US Federal Court for "providing material support" to a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), after a trial that lasted four days. Sentencing is scheduled for 16th of December. Before being extradited to the U.S., Singaporean Government arrested Balraj and later released him dropping all arms procurement charges. The FBI listed the out come of the trial as one of the top ten news stories for the week.

After the Judge, Catherine C Blake, struck down Count-VI, rejecting US Government claims that the defendant(s) furthered the conspiracy by "using firearms" as charged under 18 USC 924(c), the Jury was asked to determine if the defendant was guilty under COUNT II: Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to an FTO, in violation of 18 USC 2339(B)(a)(1).

Jury returned a guilty verdict after a little more than 2 hours of deliberations.

Four men who admitted involvement in the same "conspiracy" were arrested earlier, and sentenced in previous trials dating back to 2008, for terms lasting from 30 months to 57 months, after pleading guilty.

Sri Lanka born Thirunavukkarasu Varatharasa, referred to in the legal proceedings as the surveryor or weapons expert, received the longest sentence (57 months) out of the four.

Another Sri Lanka born defendant, Thulasitharan Santhirarajah, who used to own a hotel in Singapore, is currently fighting extradition from Australia. If Australia extradites Mr Santhirarajah, there will likely be another legal action in the same court in Baltimore, according legal sources monitoring the case.

Spokesperson for Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), a US-based activist group which has followed the details of the case said, "Under 2339B, virtually any violent act by an organization or individual can be defined as terrorist activity, especially using the definition of "terrorist activity" under 212(a)(3)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. US-citizen jurors who are ignorant of the context to the Sri Lanka conflict are easily convinced that defendant had knowledge of "terrorist acts" when presented with only one side's violence. Unfortunately, in the legal context of the law suit, the atrocities committed by the Sri Lanka Government are not admissible as evidence.

"Therefore, until the officials of the Sri Lanka Government are brought to justice in international courts for war-crimes, Tamils will have a difficult time surmounting the US's official-position with regards to terrorism and LTTE in 2339B law suits," the spokesperson said.

Notably, Australia, Canada and the UK justice systems appear to consider "totality of circumstances" in dealing with arms procurement cases. Courts in these countries have taken into consideration the historical injustices committed on Tamils and have consistently either released Tamil defendants caught on arms procurement charges on probation or have only given them light sentences.


Chronology:


Related Articles:
17.07.07   Australia Court grants bail to 3 arrested on terrorism charg..


External Links:
USGov: Singapore Man Convicted of Conspiracy to Provide Material Support
US: 140(d)(2): Definition of terrorism
US: 212(a)(3)(B): Terrorist Activities

 

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