Canadian convicted in LTTE arms smuggling ring apologizes, seeks to avoid prison sentence

Canadian convicted in LTTE arms smuggling ring apologizes, seeks to avoid prison sentence

Canadian convicted in LTTE arms smuggling ring apologizes, seeks to avoid prison sentence

Written by Kumudu Jayawardana

13 Feb, 2014 | 12:42 pm

A Canadian awaiting sentencing in New York for his role in an arms smuggling ring that sought missiles and assault rifles for Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels has apologized and asked to be released with time served.

“This was my fault, my mistake,” Piratheepan “Peter” Nadarajah of Brampton, Ont., acknowledged in a brief letter to the U.S. federal judge who will sentence him next month.

“Remorse has been carved in the depth of my heart.”

The 37-year-old former Rogers wireless technician is the last of six Canadians to appear for sentencing over a Toronto-based network that conspired to help the Tamil rebels acquire, among others things, surface-to-air missiles.

Acting under the direction of senior rebel leaders in Sri Lanka, the group traveled to New York from Toronto to buy $1-million of SAM missiles that were to be shipped to the island and used to shoot down fighter planes.

But the conspirators ended up negotiating with an undercover informant, who recorded their conversations. Nadarajah was arrested in Toronto in August 2006 after an investigation by the Royal Mounted Canadian Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Project O-Needle.

After losing an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, he was extradited to the United States in 2012 and pleaded guilty to two terrorism-related counts. He faces a maximum sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment, although a pre-sentence report has recommended 10 years.

Nadarajah, the son of a convenience store owner whose shop was repeatedly burned down during the island’s ethnic unrest, was sent to Canada to live with his brother in 1990 after a rebel group threatened to kidnap him to extort money from his parents.

He opened a Tamil movie rental store in Toronto in 1997. He also worked at IBM and Bell Canada before joining Rogers in 2001, working as head of fraud prevention and then as a sales manager until leaving in 2010.

“He has been a dynamic and energetic social worker promoting peace and social welfare among communities in Toronto,” Karunarathna Paranawithana, the Sri Lankan consul general in Toronto, wrote in one of the many letters of support filed in court.

In his two-page apology, Nadarajah said after his arrest in 2006, his brother had attempted to travel to Canada to help him. He was lining up to buy a ticket on the ferry from northern Sri Lanka when he was shot dead in an attack.

“My choice to help my friends and the LTTE killed my brother,” he wrote from the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“I killed my brother. No form of punishment is as great as this. I live with this punishment every day.”

Nadarajah is to be sentenced March 20.

SOURCE: National Post

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