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Government Gazette

Four Tigers plead guilty in US Court

Four people pleaded guilty in federal court in Brooklyn on Tuesday to conspiring to provide support to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The United States Attorney in Brooklyn, Benton J. Campbell, said in a statement that the four defendants had raised millions of dollars and obtained weapons and technology for the Tigers. Prosecutors said one of the four defendants, Karunakaran Kandasamy, 51, was the director of the group’s American branch.

Prosecutors said two others, Pratheepan Thavaraja and Murugesu Vinayagamoorthy, had been involved in an attempt to bribe an agent posing as a State Department official to remove the LTTE from the Government’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.

The Government said the LTTE, which dated to the 1970s, had relied on “sympathetic Tamil expatriates” to raise and launder money for the group.

The Government said, for example, that Vinayagamoorthy had helped to launder LTTE money through a Swiss bank to cover a trip to Sri Lanka by a congressman.

In 2006, The Chicago Tribune identified the congressman as Representative Danny K. Davis, a Democrat of Illinois. Last winter, Davis turned down an offer through an intermediary to discuss taking the Senate seat vacated by President Obama.

The offer came from Rod R. Blagojevich, then the state’s governor, who had been accused of trying to sell the seat.

Kandasamy and Pratheepan, who goes by his first name, face sentences of up to 20 years each. Vinayagamoorthy and the fourth defendant, Vijayshanthar Patpanathan, face sentences of up to 15 years.

Kandasamy’s lawyer, Charles A. Ross, said his client “has taken responsibility for the actions set out by the government.”

He said Kandasamy, had serious health problems, adding, “We’re hopeful for a merciful and lenient sentence.” Vinayagamoorthy’s lawyer, Michael Anthony Marinaccio, said he had no comment. Pratheepan’s lawyer, William Stampur, and Patpanathan’s lawyer, Susan G. Kellman, did not return calls Tuesday night.

Prosecutors said Kandasamy had laundered money through a charitable front organization called the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization. They said Patpanathan had helped with that effort.

Thavaraja was accused of buying weapons for the Tigers, including anti-aircraft guns, automatic rifles and grenade launchers, along with ammunition and explosives.

The government said a spreadsheet on Pratheepan’s laptop computer listed $20 million worth of arms as ‘priority’ purchase items.

The State Department designated the Tigers as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997, and the government opened a wide ranging investigation into its actions in this country in 1999. Three of the four defendants were arrested in 2006.



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