LTTE supporters freed by Australian Supreme Court


Sydney : Three Australia-based Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger supporters were freed by the Supreme Court here Wednesday on bonds of good conduct after they pleaded guilty to helping the rebels.

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The Supreme Court was told that a charity organisation in Australia was used as a cover to collect and send money to the Tamil Tigers. One of the three men also admitted sending electronic components to the outfit, the Herald Sun reported Wednesday.

Tamil newspaper editor Sivarajah Yathavan of Vermont South, Aruran Vinayagamoorthy of Mount Waverley and Sydney accountant Arumugan Rajeevan each pleaded guilty to providing more than $1 million in cash to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

All three admitted supporting the LTTE but denied being its members. They claimed the $1.9 million they helped collect in Australia between August
2001 and November 2005 was for humanitarian purposes in Sri Lanka, a claim that was disputed by the prosecution.

Vinayagamoorthy also pleaded guilty to making electronic components available to the LTTE, which was crushed in May last year by the military in Sri Lanka.

The three men were freed on bonds of good behaviour by Supreme Court judge Paul Coghlan.

All three were originally charged in 2007 with more serious terrorism offences carrying sentences of 25 years after police raids on their houses in 2005 found photographic evidence linking them with LTTE founder and commander Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Police also found video footage of Rajeevan and Yathavan firing a machine gun on a Tamil Tiger boat in Sri Lanka. The two were granted access to one of their training camps in 2003.

The accused faced sentences of five years under a UN charter, which says it is an offence to provide assets to a UN-proscribed entity. The charges were dropped last year due the difficulty of proving the that LTTE was a terrorist organisation when it was not declared as such in Australia.