Oral argument concluded in LTTE vs State Dept.

[TamilNet, Monday, 08 March 1999, 00:35 GMT]
The oral argument in the case between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Petitioner) and the US Department of State (Respondent) filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit took place on March 5, 1999.

Judges Hon. Steven F. Williams, Hon. Raymond Randolph, and Hon. James L. Buckley presided over the case.

Mr. Ramsey Clark, former attorney General (under President Johnson), argued the case for the LTTE.

"The legitimacy of the Judicial branch ultimately depends on its reputation for impartiality and non-partisanship. That reputation may not be borrowed by the political branches to cloak their work in neutral colors of Judicial action," he told the Courts.

"If Secretary Madeline Albright wants to designate Cookie-selling Girl Scouts or the ICRC as terrorist organizations she can do so but she cannot use the Judiciary to legitimize her action," Mr. Clark said.

"Asking the court to adjudicate non-justiciable political issues violates article III of the US constitution" he added. (Article III deals with powers of the judiciary.)

Justice Buckley asked whether the judicial review provision from the statute could be removed.

Mr. Clark responded that since the Judicial review provision is the central element of the statutory scheme it cannot be severed and the whole statute dealing with terrorist organizations should be declared invalid.

Mr. Clark also said that millions of Tamils, who have a rich culture from an ancient civilization and who are now fighting for self determination and dignity, have come to the United States' Courts hoping they will get justice.

Mr. Clark argued that the designation of the LTTE as a "terrorist organization" based on exparte record violates due process.

He said if LTTE is given an opportunity it would prove that the allegations made against the organisation are not true.

In the opposing argument, Mr. John P. Schnitker, representing the Secretary of State stated that the judicial review provision, if unconstitutional, can be severed without declaring the whole statute as invalid.

The Government also argued that LTTE as a foreign entity does not have due process in the US Courts and the Secretary of State can designate an organization as terrorist based on documents compiled by her.

He further stated that the LTTE has not denied the allegations made against it.

Justice Buckley observed that in certain circumstances the Government can take action based on exparte documents.

Justice Williams asked whether Contras could be considered as terrorists.

Mr. Schnitker responded that it could be, but the Secretary of State due to foreign policy considerations may not want to designate it as such.

Justice Randolph stated that there is a civil war going on in Sri Lanka and queried the Government attorney how an insurgency can take place without the use of force.

The Justice also asked whether the US Government considers the situation in Kosovo as terrorism.

The Justice further observed that the statutory definition of terrorism is very broad - hypothetically if ICRC used guns to clear the way for their vehicle it could be considered as a terrorist act under the statute.

Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, one of the attorneys representing the LTTE told TamilNet that the oral arguments have been concluded and that the Court has reserved its decision.

He added that the Court could take up to two months to rule on the case.

Related Articles:
31.08.98   LTTE's US Court hearing scheduled
07.11.97   LTTE challenges US designation
09.10.97   US says LTTE engages in terrorism


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