Govt. to present evidence against LTTE being removed from terrorist list

The government will present evidence to thwart attempts being made to get the LTTE removed from the European Union’s list of terrorist organisations.

“We will tell the EU why it should keep the LTTE on the list of terrorist organisations. We will advance reasons to justify the decision to maintain the LTTE on the terrorist list,” Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said in New York last week on the sidelines of a media briefing by President Maithripala Sirisena at the auditorium of the Loews Regency.

The Minister said so when asked to comment on Lankan government’s plans against a top EU lawyer last Thursday arguing that the LTTE should be removed from the EU’s list of terrorist organizations because procedural mistakes invalidated the decision to include it in the list.

“It was I who as the Foreign Minister obtained the support of the US and other countries to include the LTTE in the list years ago. We will not let the EU to remove the LTTE from the list that easily and argue against it to keep it on the list,” the minister said.

The European Union imposed travel bans and asset freezes against the LTTE under 2001 rules. The group subsequently contested being kept on the terror list.

The General Court of the European Union, on 16th October 2014, on procedural grounds annulled the European Council measures maintaining the LTTE on the black list but allowed measures to keep their assets frozen.

The European Court of Justice said a decision by the European Council to place the LTTE on a list of terrorist organizations had been based on factual imputations derived from the press and the internet and not on acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities as required by law.

The European Council of the 28 member states appealed that finding.

Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston of the European Court of Justice recommended on Thursday the removal of the LTTE and the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas from the terror list.

The Advocate General said the EU could not rely on facts and evidence found in press articles and information from the internet, rather than in decisions of competent authorities, to support a decision to maintain a listing.

As some of the reasons advanced could not justify the decision to maintain the listing of the LTTE and Hamas, the General Court was correct to dismiss the EU appeal when it could find no other sufficient reasons for their listing, the Advocate General said.

Her advice, which also said some elements of the appeal were justified, was not binding. But judges’ rulings typically follow closely the recommendations of the advocates general, agency reports said.

Accordingly, the ECJ should annul the measures maintaining Hamas and LTTE on the EU list of terrorist organizations on procedural grounds, Sharpston suggested.

The ECJ said its justices were beginning their deliberations on the case and there was no set date for a ruling. For the moment there was no change in the status and the Hamas and LTTE remain listed and their assists frozen.