New York Judge frees another Tamil man accused of aiding terrorism
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 00:22 GMT]
Ramanan Mylvaganam, 35, accused by the U.S. prosecutors of trying to buy night vision goggles and assisting in the purchase of computer equipment, electronic components and communications equipment for the Liberation Tigers, was allowed to go free after Eastern District of New York Judge Drearie sentenced Ramanan to time served, rejecting the request by the Prosecutors who sought a 15-year sentence. Only on Friday the same judge let another Tamil man who the FBI and the prosecutors labelled the "leader" for the Tigers in the U.S. go free after time served.
While the prosecutors argued that Ramanan had committed "a gravely serious offense," the defense counsel said the crime was an "isolated transgression."
“We’re so happy, we just can’t believe it. We didn’t know what was going to happen and this is just great news," Ramanan's brother, Ragavan Kathiravetpillai said after the Judge's decision was announced.
On the 8th February 2012, Ramanan pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to provide material support to Liberation Tigers.
Ramanan was arrested on Aug. 22, 2006 by the RCMP at his Derry Rd. E. apartment. He was picked up at the request of American authorities. He was supposed to start a job at Microsoft's international headquarters in Redmond, Washington in late 2006, but those plans were put on hold after he was arrested. At the time of the arrest Ramanan was a computer engineering student at University of Waterloo. One month later, he was granted bail and returned to university, where he continued to pursue a master's degree.
A spokesperson for Tamil Against Genocide [TAG], a US-based group that seeks legal remedies to victims of Sri Lanka's war said, "There is a clear shift in the way the US Courts are viewing material support charges to the Liberation Tigers. The judge found the prosecution's attempt to describe the Canadian student as part of an international network supplying arms to the Tigers as clearly unpersuasive. If statute of limitation permits, one can expect appeals based on 28 USC § 2255 attack from others who have previously received harsher sentences on similar charges," TAG spokesperson said.
Two other Canadians — Thiruthanikan Thanigasalam and Sahilal Sabaratnam — arrested along with Ramanan as part of a joint Federal Bureau of Investigation/Royal Canadian Mounted Police probe in 2006, were sentenced in January 2010 to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty of material support.
A third Canadian, Satha Sarachandran, 30, was sentenced to 26 years in prison, while Nadarasa Yogarasa, an Eezham Tamil living in the U.S., got 14 years.
According to a story in the National Post, diaspora activists said, the Government of Sri Lanka, by promising to help the three convicted Canadians [by reducing the sentence through diplomatic channels], has tried to exploit the misery "to undermine Tamil militancy in the diaspora and bolster Colombo’s image as it faces accusations of war crimes."
The families "have met with senior Sri Lankan officials in recent months to make their case for leniency. They said the country’s powerful defence secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, had assured them Sri Lanka was open to their proposals," National Post said in a story dated October 7, 2011.
But, TAG spokesperson commented, "absent a Presidential pardon, there is hardly any extra-legal mechanism available to intervene in the U.S. judicial process to obtain leniency after conviction. We hope that the families use all legal recourse available to appeal the conviction, and not be misled by the promises of Colombo which is as helpless as any other lay person to influence the judiciary by extra-legal means," TAG said on the unfortunate predicament of those serving long jail sentences.
Two other Canadians, Suresh Sriskandarajah, who is accused of conspiring with Ramanan to procure equipment for the Tamil rebels, and Pratheepan Nadarajah, who is sought in a related case, have appealed their extradition orders to the Supreme Court of Canada.
"The recent decisions by Judge Drearie will have a bearing on the evolving pre-trial attorney engagements for Suresh Sriskandarajah and Pratheepan. While the fact patterns and charges for each case is different, the Prosecutors will hesitate to fight for extradition if there are plausible grounds to expect that Judge Drearie will likely rule in a similar manner to the recent cases," TAG spokesperson commented.