British Tamil leader Arunachalam Chrishanthakumar was sentenced to two years in prison by a London court for supplying bomb-making material to Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels, who conceded defeat last month after a 25-year civil war.
AFP - A British Tamil leader found guilty of giving bomb-making equipment to Tamil Tiger rebels was jailed for two years by a court in London Friday, but the judge described him as a "thoroughly decent man."
The judge said Arunachalam Chrishanthakumar had broken the law for a cause he passionately believed in.
Chrishanthakumar, 52, was convicted in April of coordinating supplies of material to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the rebel group of which he was the alleged leader in Britain.
His jail term was handed down at the Old Bailey, the central criminal court in London, two months after the end of a trial held at Kingston Crown Court in southwest London.
The judge in the case noted that, at the time of the offences, the Tamil Tigers were not banned in Sri Lanka. He also praised the defendant's "humanitarian" work, which he hoped would continue after he leaves jail.
"This was a protracted, deliberate breaking of a law. These are very serious offences which warrant substantial sentences. The terrorist law has to be obeyed as part of our obligations internationally," said the judge.
But citing the "exceptional" nature of the case, he added: "He is a thoroughly decent man who deliberately broke the law in support of a cause he fervently believed in."
During the trial, prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw said that police became aware in 2004 that Chrishanthakumar was buying military clothing and equipment intended for shipment to rebel forces in Sri Lanka.
The material was found to include computers, printed circuit boards, remote control equipment, radio transmission components and satellite equipment.
Officers did not arrest him at the time, but told him to cease the activity. Chrishanthakumar claimed he was trying to help poor farmers.
Three years later, police carried out a search of his home and "despite the warning when the police became aware of that activity, he had continued with his support activity on the LTTE's behalf," Laidlaw said.
He added that Chrishanthakumar, also known as AC Shanthan, had headed the United Tamil Organisation in Britain before it became outlawed in 2001. The LTTE is designated a terrorist organisation under British law.
The LTTE, or Tamil Tigers, conceded defeat last month after a 25-year war seeking to carve out an independent homeland for the Tamil minority in north and east of Sri Lanka.
Date created : 2009-06-12