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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2730

Sri Lanka's appeal for clemency help 'Waterloo Suresh' a reduced jail term

Daya Gamage - Asian Tribune US National Correspondent
Washington, D.C. 29 October, (Asiantribune.com):

The United States District Court in Brooklyn, New York did not heed to the Government of Sri Lanka's appeal to the State Department to abandon the prosecution of Suresh Sriskandarajah for his role to provide military technology to Tamil Tigers, but it seemed that the Court listened to the 'extraordinary request' by Sri Lanka to sentence him to just mere two years behind bars.

A Canadian citizen Sriskandarajah, well known as Waterloo Suresh because of his educational and community involvement in the university there, used the American soil to help Sri Lankan rebel group Tamil Tigers acquire “sophisticated military technology” was sentenced by a New York judge Monday, 28 October to two years imprisonment.

The Sri Lankan government has asked the United States to abandon the prosecution of Mr. Sriskandarajah.
The extraordinary request, in a letter sent to the U.S. State Department, concerns Suresh Sriskandarajah, 32, who was extradited to New York in December last year to stand trial on terrorism charges.

The letter, which surfaced at Mr. Sriskandaraja's bail hearing last month, urged the U.S. to drop the charges against Mr. Suresh “in light of his publicly recognized efforts to secure a lasting, peaceful reconciliation for the Tamil people,” wrote Judge Raymond Dearie of the U.S. District Court.

“Given the history of Sri Lanka’s prolonged and bitter conflict, the request is indeed an extraordinary initiative that evidences Suresh’s legitimate and admirable work to secure a lasting and just resolution of the tragic conflict,” the Judge said.

But U.S. prosecutors proceeded with the case nonetheless, and the judge ruled the letter was not relevant to the bail proceedings, ordering Mr. Suresh to be held in custody for the duration of the trial.

Under U.S. 'Material Support' to foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) law the imprisonment for such a conviction is fifteen years.

The U.S. prosecutors sought a 15-year prison term, saying he had committed a “gravely serious offence” but the District Judge sentenced him to just two years, possibly taking note of the 'extraordinary request' by the Government of Sri Lanka.

The former president of the Tamil Students Association at University of Waterloo, where he studied engineering, Sriskandarajah was arrested in Toronto in 2006 following a joint RCMP-FBI investigation into the networks that were supplying weapons, money and equipment to the Tamil Tigers.

In December, he was extradited to New York to stand trial on charges related to his alleged attempts to “procure sophisticated military technology” for the rebels between 2004 and 2006.

He however pleaded guilty to the charges.

The New York District Court prosecution document said: "As detailed in court filings, between September 2004 and April 2006, Sriskandarajah and several co-conspirators assisted a principal LTTE procurement officer in researching and acquiring aviation equipment, submarine and warship design software, night vision equipment and communications technology. Sriskandarajah used students as couriers to smuggle prohibited items into territory in Sri Lanka that was controlled by the LTTE at that time. Additionally, Sriskandarajah helped the LTTE launder its proceeds in the United States and elsewhere. Following his indictment in the Eastern District of New York, Sriskandarajah, who is a Canadian citizen, was extradited to the United States from Canada, arriving in 2012".

Sriskandarajah, who came to Canada from northern Sri Lanka as a boy, was arrested in 2006 and was ordered extradited to the United States in 2009, though he was freed on bail.

Sriskandarajah fought his extradition up to the Supreme Court of Canada, which denied his appeal in December 2012 and was sent to the U.S. to face the charges. In the meantime, he had completed an MBA at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo and started a PhD while working as a consultant.

Immediately after the December 2004 Tsunami, Suresh Sriskandarajah arrived in the Northern region of Sri Lanka to assist in the rehabilitation of families affected by the deadly Tsunami.

- Asian Tribune -

Suresh Sriskandarajah
Suresh Sriskandarajah in 2004 at a northern Sri Lanka orphanage post Tsunami.
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