Extortion: Ten Tigers jailed in Germany

By Suhada Walisinghe from Bonn, Germany

The Criminal Court in Berlin convicted two women and eight men of Sri Lankan origin, living in Berlin last Friday (12) of illegally collecting funds for the LTTE.

 The duration of imprisonment ranged between six to eighteen months. The names of the accused and their prison terms are as follows:

Kanapathipillai Koneswaran was sentenced to one year and three months, Sumathy Uthayakumar to seven months, Gopallapillai Jeyasangar eight months,

Balachanthiran Balasubramaniam one year and ten months, Kumanan Tharmalingam  six months, Vaithilingam Jothilingham one year,

Yogarajah Srikatharajah one year, Senthilkumaran Kanthasami one year,

Tusyanthy Arunasalam nine months and Thayabaran Arumugam one year.

The convicts are aged between 32 and 60 years and five of them are German

citizens. Every LTTE member was individually represented in court by a prominent criminal lawyer in Germany. The lawyers argued that since the LTTE was no more proscribed in the EU the persons charged could not be convicted for collecting funds in Germany, as it was not illegal to do so.

However, this made no mark on the presiding Judge, who was convinced enough to rule that the accused group collected 100.000 Euros for the LTTE in the years 2007, 2008 and 2009.

These individuals come under a two year probation period. However, the convicted can appeal against the judgment to the highest court in Germany the "Bundesgerichtshof" (Federal Court of Justice) within one week.

They were found guilty under the new criminal code 129b, of the German criminal

Code "Supporting Criminal and Terrorist Organisations abroad; extended confiscation and deprivation" introduced after 9/11.

The ten LTTE members have been engaged in collecting funds under Agilan Bardaya, the LTTE ‘boss’ in charge of Berlin, at TCC in the city of Oberhausen.

According to reliable sources in the Tamil community in Berlin, the actual amounts collected in Berlin were much higher than the amount presented to the courts, by the authorities.

The same sources said the collections were around 60.000 Euros per month. It was mostly collected from unwilling Tamils who were forced to donate to the LTTE cause. Towards the end of the Eelam war IV, the collections had been even higher, as there were a series of robberies in Tamil houses in Berlin. Due to income tax problems many Tamils in Berlin didn’t deposit their money in Banks. This was well known to the LTTE. Due to anonymous threats the victims never reported the robberies to the German police.

Gopalapillai Jayashangar, who got the least prison time, is basically the most prominent LTTEer in Berlin. Jayashangar runs a number of businesses in Berlin, using his uncle as the "front man". Jayashangar is an executive board member of the "People’s Council of Eelam Tamils in Germany", a registered association.

They run a Tamil school and a cultural centre in the city area of Berlin Wilmersdorf. A large number of Tamils who didn’t want to support the LTTE in Berlin know and despise Gopalapillai Jayashangar, as he had used "unconventional" methods to extract funds from these Tamils.

As soon as the LTTE was crushed on May19, 2009 a number of Tamils made complaints to the German police BKA (Bundeskriminalamt) which led to a lengthy investigation.

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