Canada man pleads guilty in first terrorism fundraising case

[JURIST] Canadian resident Prapaharan Thambithurai pleaded guilty Tuesday to raising money for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the nation’s first case involving fundraising for a banned terrorist group. Thambithurai admitted raising between $2,000 and $3,000 between late 2007 and March 2008, acknowledging that he knew part of the money would go to the LTTE, which was banned in Canada in 2006. Thambithurai is the first to be charged under the controversial terrorism financing legislation, introduced almost 10 years ago. The maximum sentence is 10 years in prison, but the prosecution is seeking only a two-year jail term. The defense has requested a three-year suspended sentence. Sentencing is scheduled for Friday.

Sri Lanka has faced numerous allegations of human rights violations originating from incidents that took place during the final months of the civil war by both the government and the rebel LTTE, which ended last year. In January, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Philip Alston urged an investigation into possible war crimes after authenticating a video of members of the LTTE being executed by members of the Sri Lankan military. In October, the US State Department released a report on the conflict, urging Sri Lankan officials to investigate reports of human rights violations and war crimes and prosecute those responsible. While the government of Sri Lanka rejected the findings of the report, President Mahinda Rajapaksa decided in October to appoint an independent committee to investigate allegations of human rights violations.

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