Tamil Tiger chief guilty of UK terror charges

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The Independent Online

The head of the Tamil Tigers in Britain was found guilty today of supplying bomb-making equipment for the Sri Lankan terrorist organisation.

Arunachalam Chrishanthakumar, 52, known as Shanthan, coordinated the supply of materials for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), also known as the Tamil Tigers.

Despite warnings to stop his activities, Chrishanthakumar, described as a "very prominent figure" in the UK's Tamil community, continued supplying electrical components for the LTTE, some of which had "an obvious terrorist purpose".

He was also found guilty of receiving documents for the purpose of terrorism.

A jury at Kingston Crown Court, south west London, failed to reach verdicts on three further charges and on one charge relating to his co-defendant, Jagatheeswaran Muraleetharan.

The CPS will decide next week on whether there will be a re-trial.

Jurors, who were discharged today after nearly 50 hours of deliberation, were told Chrishanthakumar was a fully-fledged member of the LTTE.

Originally from Sri Lanka, he was also head of the United Tamil Organisation in the UK before it became a proscribed organisation in 2001.

In 2004 police became aware Chrishanthakumar was buying equipment from an army surplus store in Southsea, Hampshire.

The initial investigation into his activities uncovered evidence of the procurement of electrical components including computers, printed circuit boards (PCBs), remote control equipment, components associated with radio transmitting devices and also satellite equipment.

Officers believed this was being sent to LTTE forces.

But the defendant insisted he was simply shipping circuit boards to Sri Lanka to help poor poultry farmers and was "honouring his human duty to others".

The circuit boards were developed, it was said, as a power-saving device to provide cheap electricity in poorer areas. This included providing light in hen houses.

At the time, Chrishanthakumar was not arrested but was told the authorities had "become aware" of his procurement activity and he was asked to stop.

In July 2007 police carried out searches of his home where they found evidence which allegedly demonstrated his continued work for the Tamil Tigers.

Today he was facing jail after jurors decided by a majority that he was guilty of receiving electrical components and literature and manuals with titles including Underwater Warfare Systems, Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Naval Weapon Systems.

But they failed to reach a verdict on three other charges: receiving military equipment, receiving money, and belonging to a proscribed organisation, all of which Chrishanthakumar denied.

They also failed to agree on charges relating to Jagatheeswaran Muraleetharan (Muralee), 46, from Powys, Wales, accused of receiving electrical components for the purposes of terrorism.

His brother, Jeyatheswaran Vythyatharan (Vithy), 40, from Powys, Wales, was cleared of the same charge following the nine-week trial.

Murugesu Jegatheeswaran (Jegan), 34, from Mitcham, south London, was found not guilty of receiving electrical components for the purposes of terrorism at an earlier stage.

During their deliberations, the jury sent nearly 70 notes to Mr Justice John Saunders, with one member asking to be discharged on the grounds that deliberations were proving "too stressful".