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Tamil migrant ordered deported for alleged war crime

Police and military are seen wearing surgical masks as they board the MV Sun Sea after it was escorted into CFB Esquimalt in Colwood, B.C.,Friday, Aug. 13, 2010.

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

A Tamil refugee claimant who arrived off Canada's West Coast aboard the MV Sun Sea last year has been ordered deported over allegations he committed a war crime in his home country of Sri Lanka.

The migrant, who can't be identified, appeared before the Immigration and Refugee Board in April. A written decision was issued this week.

The man admitted he was a member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Tigers, which is considered a banned terrorist organization in Canada.

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The written decision was heavily redacted and did not outline the specific allegations against the migrant, but he was accused of counselling others to commit a war crime.

It also wasn't clear whether the migrant offered any type of defence. Geoff Rempel, the refugee board adjudicator in the case, wrote that his decision was based in large part on the migrant's own account of what happened in interviews with border officials and in testimony at his immigration hearings

Mr. Rempel wrote that statements the migrant made "amounted to him deliberately urging or inciting" others to commit a war crime.

"His statements, viewed objectively in context, actively prompted, advocated or encouraged the commission of the offence," wrote Mr. Rempel.

The migrant was among nearly 500 men, women and children who arrived aboard the MV Sun Sea last year. All were ethnic Tamils from war-torn Sri Lanka, and all made refugee claims.

Most have been released, but eight men, including the migrant in this case, remain in detention.

The government has requested admissibility hearings for about 50 migrants to determine whether they are ineligible to remain in Canada, primarily because of alleged links to the Tamil Tigers.

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So far, six have been deported, while the refugee board refused to deport nine of them. Several of those cases are now the subject of appeals in Federal Court.

Similar allegations were levelled against a number of passengers who arrived a year earlier on a separate ship, the MV Ocean Lady.

The Ocean Lady arrived off Vancouver Island in October, 2009, carrying 76 Tamil men, although none of the allegations against them were substantiated at the Immigration and Refugee Board.

Four men have been charged in connection with the Ocean Lady's arrival.

Vignarajah Thevarajah, 33, Francis Anthonimuthu Appulonappa, 33, Hamalraj Handasamy, 39, and Jeyachandran Kanagarajah, 32, were arrested in Toronto last month and charged with human smuggling.

They appeared at a bail hearing in Vancouver last week, and a decision on whether they'll be released until their trial is expected on Friday.

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Earlier this month, news surfaced that another ship carrying almost 90 Sri Lankan Tamils was stopped by authorities in Indonesia.

It's unclear where that vessel was heading. Numerous news reports said the ship's final destination was New Zealand, while the Sydney Morning Herald reported there were charts on board indicating it was prepared to travel to Canada.

The federal Conservatives were quick to jump on the possibility of another migrant ship, with Immigration Minister Jason Kenney holding it up as proof that Canada needs tougher laws to combat human smuggling.

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