Feature Article
2ND LEAD (New Court Date)

UK, Netherlands join fight against Koppe's EU Court filing

[TamilNet, Sunday, 14 August 2011, 01:43 GMT]
United Kingdom applied to the General Court of the European Union (CVRIA) for leave to intervene in the case (T 208/11) against the ban on the Liberation Tigers filed by Victor Koppe, attorney from Amsterdam-based Bohler Advocaten representing the LTTE, legal sources in Amsterdam said. The case is against the Council of the European Union's extension of the LTTE ban. Earlier, European Commission and The Netherlands had applied to intervene in the case. The Registrar of the Court has ordered the parties to submit observations by 19th September, according to Court records. Notable absentee nations, not expressing intent to participate in the intervention, are Germany, France and Denmark, where several Eelam Tamils have been prosecuted for allegedly providing material support to the LTTE.

Court granted an extension for filing the observations from the original date of 1st September, "in view of the obligation to consult with member states prior to submitting council pleadings to the Court." Court also indicated that it would not grant further extensions.

In the complaint to the European Court, Koppe, acting as power of Attorney for the LTTE, sought annulment of Council implementing regulations (EU) No 83/2011 and the Council Regulation (EC) No 2580/2001 is not applicable to the LTTE. Koppe also asked to Court to award costs and interests to the applicant LTTE. The action was published in the JO C179 of 18th June 2011.

Koppe, in his submission to the Court, has advanced arguments around six different pleadings, including the following four:
  • EU's regulation is inapplicable due to a failure to take regard of the law of armed conflict,
  • LTTE activities do not amount to offenses under international humanitarian law and national criminal law, which does not apply to situations of armed conflict,
  • LTTE no longer uses military means to achieve its goals and is no longer directly active in Sri Lanka, such a review would have led to the conclusion that it must be removed from the list, and
  • EU regulation infringes upon the applicant’s right of defense, the applicant’s right to effective judicial protection.
Victor Koppe, Advocaat at Bohler
Victor Koppe
After a report by Dutch intelligence and security bureau, the Dutch law enforcement in an 2009 operation code named ‘Operation Koninck,’ identified 38 Tamils and five legal entities as suspects for financially supporting the LTTE. Many of these Tamils are currently being prosecuted in Netherlands.

"Although, the threat of armed, violent mode of struggle of the LTTE is no longer present, it is not surprising that the Dutch opposes removing the ban on Tigers. Prosecution by Government authorities in Netherlands will likely come to an abrupt end if the Court removes the ban. Domestic political compulsions dictate that this is not allowed to happen," spokesperson for Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), a US-based activist group commented.

"However, the British application to intervene, while other key EU nations including Germany, France and Denmark are opting out is, somewhat surprising. Especially when the judiciary in UK, similar to the US-based rulings lately in Easter District Court of New York, is taking a more balanced view of the conflict of the past. Further, the critical UN-report on war-crimes, and the Channel-4 video on extra-judicial executions have swayed the judges to take a more objective stand on the "material support" charges on Tamil defendants," TAG spokesperson added.

But, the British Government appears to be going against the direction of the judiciary. Justice Saunders' sentencing statement in June 2009, in the case of Chrishanthakumar, the UK LTTE representative, is illustrative: The judge said, " In view of all that has been said about Mr Shanthan and all that he has done, I make it [the sentence] the very shortest that I can, so I can hope that you can resume the humanitarian work that you undoubtedly do for Tamils in this country. They will need your help more now than ever before, perhaps."

Legal observers say, European Court decision will have a lasting impact on diaspora Tamils living in EU countries, and if the decision removes the ban, they will finally be able to lead their lives without the cloud of "terrorism" hanging over them.

External Links:
BBC: Netherlands arrest 'LTTE suspects'
RNW: EU: a ban on Tamil rights?
RNW: Tamil Tigers sneak through Schagen



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