Five ethnic Tamil men have been given prison sentences of up to six years by the district court in The Hague. They were found guilty of helping to finance the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) movement with millions of euros, as part of their battle for an independent homeland in Sri Lanka.
Criminal not terrorist
At the heart of the case was the issue of whether the LTTE is a criminal or terrorist organisation, as the prosecuors argued. Despite the fact that the Tamil Tigers are on the EU blacklist of terrorist groups, the court concluded that the Sri Lankan conflict is actually a civil war.
The public prosecutor voiced dismay at the verdict's conclusion that the LTTE is not a terrorist but a criminal organisation.
Viktor Koppe, a lawyer for one of the defendants, announced he would appeal against the verdict, saying it is full of contradictions.
The court was packed with Tamil supporters as the three judges read out the verdict. Family members left the courtroom in tears.
Prosecutors had accused the five men, all of whom now have Dutch citizenship, of raising funds for the LTTE Tamil Tigers separatist group by using blackmail and other threat to extort money from members of the Sri Lankan disapora in the Netherlands.
Prosecutors had demanded sentences of up to 20 years for alleged money laundering and incitement to violence. They charged the five with operating an international criminal and terrorist organisation which engaged in arson, bombings and murder. All five had leading roles in the Dutch branch of the LTTE.
On Friday the court convicted the men of raising funds for a criminal organisation whilst they knew the LTTE is on the EU blacklist of terrorist groups. The court ruled that they had violated a Dutch law prohibiting the support of banned organisations. The men were also found guilty of runnng illegal lotteries, which they used to raise money.
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