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Swiss court rules LTTE is not a criminal organization

Published Dec 04, 2019
Updated Feb 06, 2020

The Swiss Federal Court has ruled that the Tamil Tigers are not a criminal organization and has acquitted 12 people of charges filed by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), Swissinfo reported.

In its indictment, the OAG had accused the people of violating the Swiss Penal Code by raising funds for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) between 1999 and 2009. After its nine-year investigation, the OAG suspected the accused of financially supporting the World Tamil Coordinating Committee (WTCC).

But in June 2018 the Federal Criminal Court found that the hierarchical link between the LTTE and WTCC could not be sufficiently established. The judges also felt there was not enough proof to consider the LTTE a criminal group.

In April the OAG appealed against the verdict, insisting that the accused had supported a criminal group.

In a decision published on Tuesday the Federal Court upheld the previous ruling, noting that Article 260 in the Swiss Penal Code was designed to combat organized crime of a mafia nature. Since then it has also been applied to terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda or the Islamic State (IS) terrorist militia. The LTTE was not regarded as a criminal organization at the time of the fundraising, stated the Federal Court.

According to the court, those who procured money for the LTTE in Switzerland at that time could not assume that they would later violate the law. Even if it had carried out terrorist attacks, the LTTE’s primary objective was to be recognized as an independent ethnic community.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Switzerland Karunasena Hettiarachchi has been summoned to Bern to explain the incident concerning an employee of the Swiss embassy in Colombo.

State Secretary Pascale Baeriswyl received the Sri Lankan ambassador, who is based in Berlin and asked him to explain the purported evidence that contradicts Switzerland’s version of events, the FDFA said in a statement.

The Swiss embassy in Colombo has lodged a complaint with the authorities that a local female officer of the Embassy was abducted on November 25 and threatened by unidentified men to force her to disclose “embassy-related information”.