Ocean Lady Human-smuggling

June 21, 2011 by staff 

Ocean Lady Human-smugglingOcean Lady Human-smuggling, The RCMP in Toronto arrested the four alleged organizers of a smuggling ship that brought tens of migrants from Sri Lanka to the west coast of Canada in 2009 on Tuesday. Masters, chief engineer and assistant engineer of Mrs. MV Ocean were charged with “organizing entry into Canada” and will be transported back to Vancouver this week to appear before a judge.

“These people are allegedly involved in the organization of society in general and to be active leaders in the ship,” said Superintendent Tom Jones, head of the Border Integrity Program of the RCMP in BC, told reporters.

The arrests are the first result of several ongoing investigations RCMP in Southeast Asia-based traffickers have transported hundreds of refugees from Sri Lanka, the claimants to Canada aboard two freighters.

Defendants are Vignarajah “Raja” Thevarajah, 33, Francisco “Hand” Anthonimuthu Appulonappa, 33; Hamalraj “Kamal” Handasamy, 39, and Kanagarajah Jeyachandran, 32. All are Sri Lankans, who arrived in Canada in the Ocean Lady.

They were arrested without incident after they were told to report to the highest office in Toronto of the Canadian Border Services Tuesday morning. If convicted, the CBSA may try to block their applications for asylum and deportation.

In a press conference, the Superintendent. Jones declined to give details about what the roles of men had apparently in the boat, but a classified document obtained by the National Post, describes them as operators of the vessel.

The Public Ministry of the note of Canada, says Mr. Thevarajah, Mr. and Mr. Handasamy Appulonappa were found in the wheelhouse of the boat when agents of the RCMP approached him. Several migrants were also identified them as the heads of the ship during interviews with officials from the RCMP and CBSA, he adds.

Anyone convicted of helping more than ten undocumented immigrants enter Canada faces life imprisonment and a fine and 1 million in Clause 17.1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection.

The Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, told reporters in Ottawa after the arrests that Canada was open to asylum seekers, but the payment of a smuggling operation was “the worst and most dangerous way to come to Canada. ”

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews called human smuggling a “despicable crime” that takes advantage of the disadvantaged and desperate. He said the Conservatives presented their controversial bill anti-smuggling later this month.

Asked why the bill was a priority, Mr. Toews said Canada needs to be prepared because traffickers targeted it. “We want to be able to say to Canadians who have done everything we can to ensure that the appropriate legislative framework is in place.”

Previously Easwary Princess, Ocean Lady left Indonesia in late July 2009. After a stop in Thailand to pick up more passengers, and a second stop near the Philippines to deal with money problems, which crossed the Pacific, arriving off the island of Vancouver on October 17.

All 76 men aboard made refugee claims and were released by the Immigration and Refugee Board. Almost everyone has gone to Toronto, home to one of the main ethnic groups in the Tamil world.

The ship’s passengers and crew have said they were fleeing persecution in Sri Lanka where the ethnic Tamil minority has complained of discrimination under a government dominated by ethnic Sinhalese. A brutal civil war between Tamil rebels and government forces ended in May 2009.

Since the Ocean Lady came to Canadian waters, an RCMP investigation called Project E-Panurgic has been investigating a dozen of those on board who were suspected of involvement in the smuggling operation.

The research was long and fraught with problems due to shortage of translators in Tamil on the problems that match evidence found in the specific immigrant ship. A GPS device is on the boat did not contain any useful information.

The first RCMP sent his case to prosecutors in Vancouver last October, to recommend charges against a dozen migrants. But instead of approving the charges, the Crown responded with a scathing critique of the research.

The Crown, RCMP wrote that interviews were “wrong”, seized documents were not translated and that theanlysis of the evidence was “rudimentary.” The note said the page after page of “problems”, “deficiencies” and “areas needing improvement before a process can continue.”

The RCMP responded that some of the issues raised by prosecutors were inaccurate or unfair, but the problems identified in the note were addressed in a follow-up investigation that ultimately led to four arrests.

According to the note of the Crown, Mr. Thevarajah “in control of the boat.” Witnesses said he was in charge of the engine room and gave orders on the ship. He also reportedly told five of the immigrants to deposit their payments into a bank account. While most of the migrants remained below deck, supposedly slept alone in a cabin.

Mr. Appulonappa was photographed while in the wheelhouse of a plane. Like the other two, who lived in a cabin? One of the immigrants said that “under the supervision of the engine room.” Another said he had spoken Appulonappa with about 20 immigrants in an apartment before boarding the ship, telling them not to talk about the Tamil Tiger rebels.

A migrant considered a key witness in the case said police had taken Mr. Appulonappa 15 or 16 passengers on deck “to tell who owed money for the trip,” the note said. The migrants said they had used the same agent, Anthony, who had eloped with their payments. Organizers wanted to pay 10,000 or another and said that they or their families would be killed, says the memo.

Mr. Handasamy also allegedly lived in a cabin on the upper deck, where he worked on the bridge and steered the ship. Migrants remain in the hold of the ship that supposedly had to ask permission before they could reach the deck.

Police believe that “played a role in the smuggling of migrants to Canada,” the note said. One of the immigrants told police Mr. Handasamy picked it up at the airport in Indonesia and took a small boat that carried him to the ship.

A shipping agent in the Philippines is also identified in a photo line until the captain of the ship. A plane passes also photographed in the cckpit during the trip. He and Mr. Thevarajah were “primarily responsible,” said a migrant from the police.

Crown prosecutors have decided to proceed with direct accusations, which means that preliminary hearings and go directly to trial. This can be done with the approval of the Attorney General when there has been a significant delay in bringing a matter to trial, where witnesses are in danger or to ensure public confidence.

Ten months after the Ocean Lady came to Canada, a second ship named MV Sea Sun made a similar trip carrying 492 Sri Lankans who had boarded in southern Thailand. These traffickers are suspected of involvement in the two ships and police broke up a third last fall and another who police believe is being organized.

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