TAMILS: Vancouver judge quashes charges against four accused of people smuggling

Published: January 25, 2013

Tamils waving aboard the MV Ocean Lady in 2009. Four men charged with smuggling 76 Tamils aboard the ship have had their charges dismissed by a B.C. judge.

BY Keith Fraser
The Province
A B.C. judge who struck down Canada’s human smuggling law on Friday quashed the charges against four men accused of bringing 76 Tamils into Canada in 2009.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Arne Silverman also suspended his declaration of invalidity of the law for 30 days so the federal Crown can go to the B.C. Court of Appeal and apply for a stay or further suspension of the ruling, pending a possible appeal.
The decisions by the judge followed his ruling on Jan. 11 that Section 117 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act was overbroad and unconstitutional.
Complicating the issue was the fact that the smuggling law was amended in December, prior to Silverman’s ruling.
The judge said he agreed with the Crown’s argument that the striking down of the law created a void in past prosecutions, including 95 criminal charges that were laid prior to the December amendment.
The Crown argued that the ruling meant authorities were powerless to deal with those past cases, leaving the public unprotected.
The judge said he had “great concern” about the void that was created and the need to protect the public, in light of the 95 cases, nine of which are in B.C.
He said if there was no suspension of the declaration of invalidity, there was a question about what might happen to the 95 accused.
“I’m concerned about whether or not they might be released into the community when arguably they should not be,” he said in brief reasons of judgment.
“Conversely, I also have concerns that persons should have to continue to face charges perhaps without bail when there is an existing decision which has struck down the section under which they are charged.”
The Crown and defence agreed that in the circumstances, the charges against the four accused should be quashed and the judge made that declaration.
The four men — Francis Anthonimuthu Appulonappa, Hamalraj Handasamy, Jeyachandran Kanagarajah and Vignarajah Thevarajah — are on bail and living in Ontario, where there is a large Tamil community. They weren’t in the Vancouver courtroom Friday.
All four men have filed refugee claims but those claims were suspended pending the outcome of the prosecution.
The men were arrested after the 76 Sri Lankan Tamils aboard the ship came in off the coast of B.C. in 2009.
Silverman’s ruling is also expected to impact the case of six men charged with smuggling 492 Tamils aboard the MV Sun Sea in 2010. That prosecution was scheduled to follow the MV Ocean Lady case.
In his ruling striking down the law, the judge said that the law captures categories of persons — including humanitarian workers and close family members of refugees — who the Crown did not intend to prosecute.
He said the law had a legitimate objective — to prosecute the crime of human smuggling — but agreed with the defence that it was too sweeping and violated the accused’s right to life, liberty and security of person.
It is anticipated that the case will eventually wind up in the Supreme Court of Canada, a process which could take several years.
kfraser@theprovince.com
twitter.com/keithrfraser




Featured

pioneers

Dharm Singh Gill changed the way Sikhs were regarded for wearing turbans at work

SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI Little did Dharm Singh Gill realize that an act of heroism would change the way Sikhs were regarded for wearing their…
Continue Reading »

Jacqui Feldman shows off a recovering Sugar, her 13-year-old poodle that Terra Nova vet Dr. Javaid Chaudhry, rear, helped save after operating to remove a tumour. Feldman, who is battling cancer herself, fell on hard times and couldn’t afford to pay the $3,000-plus for Sugar’s procedure.  Alan Campbell/Richmond News

Richmond veterinarian steps up to save cancer sufferer’s dying dog

ALAN CAMPBELL RICHMOND NEWS Richmond’s Jacqui Feldman, who’s suffering from terminal cancer, is crediting a local veterinarian with saving her life. It was a few weeks ago…
Continue Reading »

An artist sketch of Yosef Jomo Gopaul, the man accused of killing hockey mom Julie Paskall. Felicity Don, Sketch

Man accused of killing Surrey hockey mom pleads guilty to lesser charge of manslaughter

JENNIFER SALTMAN VANCOUVER DESI SURREY, B.C. — A man has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with the death of Surrey’s Julie Paskall, who was…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

pioneers

Dharm Singh Gill changed the way Sikhs were regarded for wearing turbans at work

SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI Little did Dharm Singh Gill realize that an act of heroism would change the way Sikhs were regarded for wearing their…
Continue Reading »

Jacqui Feldman shows off a recovering Sugar, her 13-year-old poodle that Terra Nova vet Dr. Javaid Chaudhry, rear, helped save after operating to remove a tumour. Feldman, who is battling cancer herself, fell on hard times and couldn’t afford to pay the $3,000-plus for Sugar’s procedure.  Alan Campbell/Richmond News

Richmond veterinarian steps up to save cancer sufferer’s dying dog

ALAN CAMPBELL RICHMOND NEWS Richmond’s Jacqui Feldman, who’s suffering from terminal cancer, is crediting a local veterinarian with saving her life. It was a few weeks ago…
Continue Reading »

An artist sketch of Yosef Jomo Gopaul, the man accused of killing hockey mom Julie Paskall. Felicity Don, Sketch

Man accused of killing Surrey hockey mom pleads guilty to lesser charge of manslaughter

JENNIFER SALTMAN VANCOUVER DESI SURREY, B.C. — A man has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with the death of Surrey’s Julie Paskall, who was…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

weight-loss

Do we need to exercise more or eat less?

JILL BARKER MONTREAL GAZETTE A battle is waging in the scientific journals between several prominent health and fitness experts. In one corner are physicians Aseem Malhotra,…
Continue Reading »

exam scores

Identical twins’ mark sheets almost as identical and the story of a courageous young achiever

HINDUSTAN TIMES AND VANCOUVER DESI They are identical twins and, interestingly, even their mark sheets look almost the same. Ranchi twins Aporupa and Anorupa Chattopadhyay …
Continue Reading »

India-pharma-under scanner

U.S. lawsuit puts generic drug imports from India under scanner

IANS Washington – A U.S. class action lawsuit accusing India’s Ranbaxy of large-scale deception on its generic drug applications puts a question mark on drug…
Continue Reading »

100 year journey

Apart from the overwhelming cold, Sucha Singh Bagri has fond memories of his first few days in B.C.

SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI Sucha Singh Bagri arrived in Canada with his father Harnam Singh Bagri on Feb 2, 1935, on the Empress of Russia,…
Continue Reading »

swimsuits

Who wants to be a Princess? Beauty pageant contestants undergo rigorous training

VANCOUVER DESI Divas aspiring to become Indian Princesses are undergoing rigorous training before the grand finale of the beauty pageant in Mumbai. Indian princess pageant 2015 ◄…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Items of clothing are displayed in room 331 of the Martinez Hotel, where Parisian fashion house Elie Saab provides sartorial services to celebrities attending the 68th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 21, 2015. During the Cannes Film Festival, room 331 is radically transformed into a red carpet emergency room - where celebrities like Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman can rush to if they pop out of a dress, or a zipper breaks. Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

‘Nip slips’ and broken zippers: Red carpet Emergency Room for Cannes wardrobe malfunctions always full of drama

THOMAS ADAMSON THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CANNES, France – For most of the year, room 331 of the Martinez Hotel is just your run-of-the mill luxury…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Bollywood beauty Aishwarya Rai doesn’t leave her daughter alone even for a night

HINDUSTAN TIMES Apart from walking the red carpet at Cannes Film Festival, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is also screening footage from her upcoming film, Jazbaa. The first…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Photos: Aishwarya Rai an absolute stunner at Cannes 2015 (updated)

VANCOUVER DESI Former beauty queen Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has been a Cannes regular for over a decade now. But this year marks her comeback to the…
Continue Reading »