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4 Tamil-Americans plead guilty in conspiring to support LTTE

Source: PTI
June 10, 2009 15:34 IST
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Four Tamil-Americans, who have been accused of providing material support - including purchase of arms and ammunition - to the Tigers, have pleaded guilty in a court in New York.

"Just weeks after the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam's leaders in Sri Lanka were defeated in that country, the leader of the LTTE in the United States and other supporters have been brought to justice," said US Attorney Benton J Campbell. The four accused are--Karunakaran Kandasamy also known as Karuna; Pratheepan Thavaraja also known as Raja Pratheepan, Thambi Sampras and Steeban; Murugesu Vinayagamoorthy also known as Dr Moorthy and Vinayagamoorthy Murugesu; and Vijayshanthar Patpanathan also known as Chandru.

"The defendants were convicted for their involvement in efforts to raise millions of dollars and acquire arms and technology for use by the LTTE," Campbell said. The guilty plea proceedings were held before Chief United States District Judge Raymond Dearie. Kandasamy and Pratheepan face a 20-year maximum statutory sentence, while Vinayagamoorthy and Patpanathan face a 15-year maximum statutory sentence. Justice Department said Kandasamy was the director of the American branch of the LTTE, which operated through charitable front organisations, including the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO). 

As its director, he oversaw and directed the LTTE's various activities in the US, including raising millions of dollars for the LTTE and laundering it through the TRO. Defendant Vijayshanthar Patpanathan assisted Kandasamy and others in these fund raising and money laundering activities. Thavaraja was a senior procurement agent for the LTTE, involved in the purchase of improvised explosive devices, missiles, machine guns, radar, and other equipment from countries around the world, including the US.

A single spreadsheet of "priority" items to purchase, which was found in Pratheepan's laptop computer, totaled US $
20 million in arms and equipment. It included, among other things, six "25mm Anti Aircraft Guns" at US $ 160,000 each, six "30 mm Twin Barrel Mounted Naval Guns Type 69 (with base)" at US $ 30,000 each, thousands of automatic rifles, millions of rounds of ammunition, grenade launchers, 50 tons of C4 explosive, five tons of "Phlegmatized RDX" explosive, 50 tons of "TNT - based on Chinese specification," and 50 tons of Tritonal explosive. Pratheepan and defendant Murugesu Vinayagamoorthy were also involved in the attempted bribery of purported State Department officials to remove the LTTE from the list of designated foreign terrorist organisations.

Vinayagamoorthy also participated in laundering LTTE money through a Swiss bank account to fund a US Congressman's
trip to LTTE-controlled territory in Sri Lanka, the Justice Department said in a release.

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