Tamil activists' committal hearing begins

Issue 

The committal hearing for three Tamil men accused of offences under the "anti-terror" laws began in Melbourne on September 24. Aruran Vinayagamoorthy, Sivarajah Yathavan and Arumugam Rajeevan were arrested in May and are accused of raising funds for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a group fighting for self-determination for the Tamil people who are oppressed by the racist Sri Lankan government.

The LTTE is characterised as "terrorist" by the Sri Lankan government, as well as the US and Australian governments, even though it is not on Australia's list of banned organisations.

According to the September 26 Melbourne Age, Chris Smith, a "security expert" who gave evidence by video link from England, told the court that "most" expatriate Tamils donate part of their earnings to support the LTTE. Tamil sources told Green Left Weekly that what was not reported in the Age was that Smith also acknowledged that the LTTE does not carry out armed actions outside Sri Lanka, and that it does not aim to overthrow the Sri Lankan government.

The prosecution intends to call as witnesses (via video link) a number of Sri Lankan government figures, including the commanders of the army, navy and air force, and the attorney-general, as well as six other unidentified people who Tamil sources believe are probably members of Sri Lankan intelligence organisations.

The prosecution asked the magistrate to ban the public from the courtroom during the presentation of this evidence. The magistrate rejected this request, and the resulting legal argument has delayed the hearing.