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Tamil Tiger funding trio walk free after Australia court trial

By Sarah Farnsworth

(March 31, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) Three men have walked free from court after pleading guilty to funding the separatist Sri Lankan group the Tamil Tigers.

Aruran Vinayagamoorthy, 35, Sivarajah Yathavan, 39, and Arumugum Rajeevan, 44, pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Supreme Court to providing $1 million to the Tamil Tigers between 2002 and 2005.

Vinayagamoorthy also pleaded guilty to providing electronic equipment, including radio transmitters, used in bomb attacks in Sri Lanka.

It is a federal offence under the United Nations Act to provide funds to a recognised terrorist organisation.

The Tamil Tigers are recognised as a terrorist organisation overseas but not in Australia.

Justice Paul Coghlan accepted that each were connected with Tamil Tigers and knew the group had a reputation of being a terrorist organisation. But he told the court the men were motivated to assist the Tamil community in the north of Sri Lanka.

He sentenced Vinayagamoorthy to two years' jail but released him on a good behaviour bond for four years.

Yathavan and Rajeevan were sentenced to one year in jail and released on a good behaviour bond for three years.

Last year, Justice Coghlan criticised the Australian Federal Police's 2007 arrest of Rajeevan, describing his treatment as "frightfully heavy handed" and of questionable legality.

During pre-trial arguments, the Supreme Court was told Rajeevan was arrested at gunpoint and was refused access to a lawyer during a five-hour interrogation.

Terrorism charges against all three men were later withdrawn by prosecutors and replaced with the lesser charges of funding the separatist group.

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