Supreme Court sends case of deported Sri Lankan accused in wife’s slaying back to Quebec appeal court

Despite no longer being in Canada, a Sri Lankan national who had his murder charge stayed because of unreasonable delays in his trial isn’t done with the Quebec justice system just yet.

Canada’s highest court ruled Wednesday the murder case of Sivaloganathan Thanabalasingham should be sent back to the Quebec Court of Appeal.

In 2017, Thanabalasingham avoided trial for the alleged murder of his wife when the Quebec Superior Court ruled the nearly 60-month delay between his arrest and the start of his trial was unreasonable. The Supreme Court’s 2016 Jordan ruling set a 30-month limit between the laying of charges and a trial for Superior Court cases.

Thanabalasingham’s wife, Anuja Baskaran, had been found dead in the couple’s home in 2012 with knife wounds to her neck.

After the second-degree murder charge was stayed, Thanabalasingham was judged a danger to society and a flight by immigration authorities and was immediately arrested. The Crown appealed the stay, but he was deported in July 2017 before the appeal could be heard.

Quebec’s appellate court subsequently rejected the Crown’s appeal, declaring that in Thanabalasingham’s absence his prosecution had become irrelevant and theoretical.

“The order for a ‘new’ trial that the Crown seeks is simply not susceptible of being executed,” Justice Allan Hilton wrote for the Court of Appeal majority in 2017. “There is no factual basis before us to believe that such a trial will or could plausibly ever happen. I would accordingly dismiss the appeal because it is now moot.”

In a ruling from the bench, the Supreme Court said the lower court’s decision was wrong. “It remains a current litigation even if the accused’s return to Canada is not probable,” Chief Justice Richard Wagner said on behalf of the court.

The fact Thanabalasingham was deported to Sri Lanka — which doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Canada — doesn’t make the case theoretical, Wagner said.

Quebec public prosecutor’s office said it is satisfied with the court’s decision. Spokesman Jean Pascal Boucher said his office will continue to work to ensure justice is served in the case.

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