Remaining Tamil migrants to be freed

Posted by admin on Jan 15th, 2010

January 15, 2010, CBC News

The federal government is prepared to release the remaining 25 Tamil migrants held in Vancouver on suspicion of links to terrorism since they arrived in Canada three months ago. The men were among the 76 passengers and crew of a ship seized off Vancouver Island Oct. 17. All of the men claimed refugee status, saying they were fleeing the aftermath of the civil war in Sri Lanka. Fifty-one of the men were eventually released after posting bonds and agreeing to appear when summoned for hearings on their refugee claims.

The remaining migrants have remained in detention at the request of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), which had said it wanted to submit evidence about the 25 men’s possible connection to the Tamil Tigers.

The Tigers are banned as a terrorist organization in Canada following the group’s violent 20-year insurrection against the government of Sri Lanka.
Agency agrees to conditional release

The CBSA announced Thursday it would no longer block the men’s conditional release.

“You can be sure that if anyone in the government believed that any of the migrants posed a danger … there’s no way they’d consent to their release,” said Lorne Waldman, lawyer for nine of the men.

The government’s principal consultant and witness on the migrants was a Sri Lankan terrorism expert, who said he believed many of the migrants were members of the Tigers.
Sri Lankan migrants come ashore in Victoria in October.Sri Lankan migrants come ashore in Victoria in October. (Canadian Press)

One of the 25 men still in detention was also identified by Interpol as a member of a special Tiger suicide squad.

“I would be very surprised that if CBSA believed that, they would consent to release a person who met that profile,” said Waldman.

The CBSA could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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