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Dutch court jails five Tamil Tigers

[AFP, Saturday, 22 October 2011 09:49 No Comment]

Five members of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers were on Friday jailed for between two and six years for having sent millions of euros gathered illegally in the Netherlands to the rebel group.

The men, all of them Dutch nationals, were convicted of having raised money mainly through illegal lotteries but also through threats to members of the Sri Lankan community.

The separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have since 2006 been on a European Union list of terrorist organisations.

But the court decided not to follow prosecution calls for heavier sentences of up to 16 years, saying it considered the LTTE a banned organisation rather than a terrorist one.

Defence lawyer Viktor Koppe said the five would appeal.

"This judgment is incredibly contradictory," he argued.

"The LTTE is not a terrorist organisation but even so they convict five men for having helped it," he added.

Dutch police arrested all five men in June 2010 after an investigation into the Tamil Tiger organisation.

Government forces crushed the separatist LTTE in a major offensive in 2009 that ended nearly four-decades of ethnic bloodshed.

Rights groups say up to 40,000 civilians may have been killed by both sides.

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