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Extradition hearing postponed after lawyer fired

by: Louie Rosella

(June 13, Toronto, Sri Lanka Guardian) The extradition hearing for a Malton man charged in connection with a North American network that police allege provides weapons to a terrorist group in Sri Lanka was postponed this week after he fired his lawyer.

Ramanan Mylvaganam's hearing was to take place Tuesday, June 10 before a Federal Court judge as American authorities are trying to have him brought to the U.S. to face charges. Mylvaganam, 30, is expected to fight extradition.

Justice Canada spokesperson Paula Creighan said the judge postponed the hearing after learning Mylvaganam had fired his lawyer and retained new counsel. The new hearing date is scheduled for Sept. 22. Mylvaganam will appear in court July 22 to confirm the hearing date.

Mylvaganam, a computer engineering student at the University of Waterloo who came to Canada from Sri Lanka in 1992, was arrested by the RCMP on Aug. 22, 2006 at his Derry Rd. E. apartment. He was picked up on a provisional warrant at the request of U.S. authorities.

One month later, Mylvaganam was granted bail and returned to university, where he's continuing to pursue a master's degree.

Mylvaganam served as a vice-president of the university's Tamil Students Association in 2004.

UW spokesperson Martin Van Nierop said any student charged with an offence is, as far as the university is concerned, innocent until proven guilty.

"If they're not considered an immediate threat to the university community, then they're okay to go as students," he said.

Van Nierop said Mylvaganam is no longer involved with the Tamil student group.

The Malton man and four other Ontario men have been charged with one count each of conspiring to provide material support and resources to the Tamil Tigers, a political and military organization that has been waging war with the government of Sri Lanka since the 1970s.

In April 2006, the Tigers were added to Canada's official list of terrorist organizations.

In total, 12 men have been charged in the joint FBI-RCMP investigation.

The sweep also included arrests in Buffalo, San Jose, Seattle and Connecticut.

According to his brother, Raghu, Mylvaganam was supposed to start a job at Microsoft's international headquarters in Redmond, Washington in late 2006. But those plans were put on hold when he was arrested, his brother said.

U.S. prosecutors say the arrests are in relation to a network of men in Canada and the U.S. that allegedly used members' post-secondary studies as a cover for terrorist activities.

Officials say the group kept in contact with top Tamil Tiger operatives in Sri Lanka and the United States. It tried to obtain compasses, computers and night-vision goggles for the Tigers, but also had bigger plans that included the purchase of aviation equipment, said American prosecutors.

( The write can be reach at lrosella@mississauga.net )
- Sri Lanka Guardian

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