US judge reduces jail sentence of three LTTErs

Three men convicted by the US of being LTTE terrorists would get their sentences reduced by 10 years after a Brooklyn judge revealed that he had been “haunted” by the case, the New York Daily News reported on Thursday.

“I just believe in my heart of hearts that an injustice has been done and I can’t correct it,” Federal Judge Raymond Dearie has said, according to a transcript of a July 15, 2015 conference with prosecutors and defense lawyers.

Dearie was referring to the 25-year prison terms he was mandated to give to Canadian nationals Sathajhan Sarachandran, Sahilal Sabaratnam, Thiruthanikan Thanigasalam in 2011 for conspiring to acquire surface-to-air missiles on behalf of the Tamil Tigers, a rebel group fighting against the government of Sri Lanka.

The men filed a lawsuit in 2012 in Brooklyn Federal Court seeking a reduction in their sentences and disclosed details about the civil war chaos including the deaths of dozens of innocent children in a Sri Lankan air strike.

“Now that we’ve become a little bit more sophisticated in our thinking about what is and is not terrorism, now that we know a lot more about the conflict in Sri Lanka and the horrors visited upon these people, perhaps there’s a way to provide a fair measure of justice to all without condemning these men to essentially a life behind bars,” Dearie said.

Federal prosecutors informed Dearie this month that the Brooklyn US Attorney’s office had reached an agreement with lawyers for the three men which calls for essentially dropping the arms deal charge.

Their conviction for providing material support to a terrorist organization will remain along with the 15-year prison term.

As part of the agreement, the three men will be deported to Canada after completing their sentences.