A member of the Tamil Tigers who was allegedly sent to Toronto to run the Sri Lankan guerrilla group’s Canadian front organization has been ordered deported for terrorism, according to documents filed in the Federal Court.
The government has been trying to deport Manickavasagam Suresh since 1995, when he was first arrested in Toronto. The case was thought to have languished but last week the case reappeared on the court docket.
The Immigration and Refugee Board declined to comment Tuesday. But in an application filed in Toronto on Oct. 5, Suresh asked Federal Court to overturn an IRB decision “in which Mr. Suresh was found inadmissible to Canada.”
The decision was received Sept. 17, according to the documents, which indicate that Suresh was found inadmissible under sections of the immigration law that allow for the deportation of members of terrorist groups and those engaged in terrorism.
Lawyers representing Suresh wrote in their application that they wanted to argue that the IRB erred by finding that he had “engaged in terrorism,” was “complicit in terrorism,” and that there had not been an “abuse of process.”
The Suresh case has a long history in the courts.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, allegedly tasked Suresh with running the World Tamil Movement, a non-profit that Canadian officials said had “raised significant funds” for the rebels.
His arrest in 1995 was approved by the then-Liberal government of Jean Chrétien. The Federal Court of Appeal upheld the case, writing that, “Those who freely choose to raise funds to sustain terrorist organizations bear the same guilt and responsibility as those who actually carry out terrorist acts.”
But Suresh appealed to the Supreme Court, which overturned his deportation order in 2002, ruling that the security threat he posed to Canada had to be balanced against the threat of torture he faced upon his return to his home country.
The government appeared to have backed off Suresh, 60, who lived in Mississauga, Ont. and was working as a computer engineer. The new case, however, indicates that officials have continued their attempts to remove him from Canada.
IRB spokeswoman Anna Pape said she could neither confirm nor deny any information about the Suresh case. A copy of the IRB’s reasons has not yet been filed in the court so it was unclear why it had approved his deportation at this time.
But in January, Sri Lankans elected a new president Maithripala Sirisena, widely considered more reform-friendly than his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa, whose 2009 military defeat of the Tamil Tigers killed an untold number of civilians.
Much has changed since Suresh was first arrested two decades ago. The World Tamil Movement was dismantled following an RCMP investigation called Project Osaluki that found evidence the group had funneled millions to the rebels. The WTM was added to Canada’s list of terrorist entities in 2008.
“The leadership of the WTM acts at the direction of the LTTE and has been instrumental in fundraising in Canada on behalf of the LTTE,” reads the listing on the Public Safety Canada website. “WTM representatives canvas for donations amongst the Canadian Tamil population, and have been involved in acts of intimidation and extortion to secure funds.”
His lawyer, Barbara Jackman, declined to comment. (National Post)