Owner of vessel alleged to be involved in human smuggling denied bail

Published: February 8, 2013
MV Sun Sea

The owner of the MV Sun Sea has been denied bail. Submitted photo/Canadian Forces files


The owner of a vessel on which 492 Tamils allegedly tried to enter Canada illegally has been denied bail.

Kunarobinson Christhurajah, one of six men charged with human smuggling aboard the MV Sun Sea, was detained after the rusty ship arrived off the B.C. coast in August 2010.

He applied to be released in the wake of a decision by a B.C. judge in January that struck down Canada’s human smuggling as being unconstitutional.

But on Friday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jon Sigurdson denied Christhurajah judicial interim release.

The judge’s reasons for judgment and submissions heard at the bail hearing cannot be reported due to a publication ban that was imposed.

The accused, a slightly-built Sri Lankan man wearing red prison garb, had little reaction as he sat in the prisoner’s dock with an interpreter.

His wife and small child sat behind him in the public gallery of the Vancouver courtroom.


In August last year two other accused – Nadarajah Mahendran and Thampeernayagam Rajaratnam – were ordered released on bail by the B.C. Supreme Court.

In November, a fourth accused, alleged ship captain Lesly Jana Emmanuel, was also released on bail but has since been detained on an immigration matter.

Thayakaran Markandu, a fifth man charged in the case, is being sought for extradition from France.

Sathyapavan Aseervatham, the sixth accused, was deported last year back to Sri Lanka, which does not have an extradition treaty with Canada.
Lawyers for the accused appeared in court earlier this week and advised the court that they have launched a constitutional challenge similar to the one that resulted in the law being struck down. They are hoping to have the charges against their clients quashed.

No date has been set for the trial.

The 492 passengers on the Sun Sea were comprised of 380 adult men, 63 adult women and 49 minors.

After B.C. Supreme Court Justice Arne Silverman declared the law invalid, he suspended that declaration to allow the federal Crown to apply for a stay of the declaration pending an appeal of the ruling.

The stay application is scheduled to be heard in the B.C. Court of Appeal on Feb. 15.

After he struck down the law, with the consent of Crown and defence he quashed human smuggling charges against four men accused in the case of 76 Tamils brought into Canada aboard the MV Ocean Lady in 2009. All 76 were males, ranging in age from 17 to 42.

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