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Two more LTTE supporters get 25 years for arms shopping

world Updated: Jan 27, 2010 12:09 IST
LTTE supporters

Two more Canadian Sri Lankans have been sentenced to 25 years in prison for attempting to buy heat-seeking missiles and military assault rifles for Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels.

Thiruthanikan Thanigasalam and Sahilal Sabaratnam were sentenced Monday in US District Court here. They pleaded guilty last January. A third Canadian, Satha Sarachandran, 30, the administrator of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), was sentenced to 26 years Friday, while Nadarasa Yogarasa, a Sri Lankan living in the US, got 14 years.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) lured the four men from Canada in 2006 to a meeting in New York with undercover agents posing as arms dealers. They were arrested after allegedly agreeing to a shipment of 10 surface-to-air missiles and 500 AK-47s.

The missiles were to be used to shoot down Sri Lankan military aircraft that were then bombing the rebels' enclave. The plot was directed by the senior leadership of the Tamil Tigers.

Thanigasalam, 41, was the "big guy" of the Toronto-based arms procurement operation. He met personally the rebels in Sri Lanka to secure their approval for the purchases. Sabaratnam, 30, a former associate at TD Waterhouse in Toronto, was the group's financial expert and helped arrange for the $1-million payment for the illicit weapons.

Another Canadian, Ramanan Mylvaganam, is in custody in Brooklyn awaiting trial. Two more Canadians, Piratheepan Nadarajah and "Waterloo" Suresh Sriskandarajah, are still awaiting extradition to the US.

US prosecutors filed a new indictment against Mylvaganam and Sriskandarajah Dec 28, alleging they had conspired to provide weapons to the Tamil Tigers.

The two men sentenced Monday were brothers-in-law from Toronto. Both had migrated to Canada from Sri Lanka during the 26-year separatist war between government forces and the Tamil rebels. Neither had been arrested before.

The Canadian missile plot was orchestrated by Tamil Tigers intelligence chief Pottu Amman, who was killed last May when the Sri Lankan government forces overran the rebels.