LTTE ship sighted off US coast
The vessel carrying over 200 illegal immigrants under the LTTE’s
human smuggling network is expected to arrive at the Canadian shores
within the first week of August, Defence sources said yesterday.
The sources said the ship may arrive at British Columbia (BC) most
probably by the first week of August and it is being monitored via
satellite by a number of countries.
“There has been a sighting of the ship near Guatemala last week,” he
said.The Globe and Mail reported on Friday that the US coast guards
Pacific division has confirmed a sighting of the suspected ship MV Sun
Sea and they have said the ship seems to be heading towards BC.
The MV Sun Sea which was earlier known as the Harin Panich 19 a cargo
ship used by the LTTE to smuggle arms, ammunition and explosives from
Korea to Sri Lanka during the conflict was first spotted in the Bay of
Thailand in April this year. The Ship’s captain Vinod, allegedly a
hardcore LTTE leader has threatened the Thai Navy when their patrol
craft tried to intercept the unidentified vessel.
Intelligence gathered by the Sri Lankan defence officials at the time
indicated the ship was heading for the Australian shores and a warning
was issued promptly to its counterparts in Australia.
The Aussies heightened their surveillance and put their boarder
guards on alert.
Subsequently the International Terrorism Expert Prof. Rohan Gunaratne
said the LTTE crew had shifted their destination to Canada perhaps due
to the lax attitude the authorities adopted when dealing with the 76
illegal immigrants that came on board Princess Easwary (Ocean Lady),
also an ex-arms ship of the LTTE.
Although all the inhabitants of this voyage were arrested immediately
by the Canada Border Services Agency and held in detention for three
months, their applications are now being processed on a case by case
Foreign Ministry sources said strong LTTE front organisations in
Canada were working tirelessly to get these illegal immigrants which
include hardcore LTTE members, asylum status. A report from the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees early this month highlighted greatly improved
security in Sri Lanka and said that Tamils are no longer automatically
eligible for asylum.
It is believed that at least 24 LTTE cadres and hardcore leaders
fleeing Sri Lanka are onboard MV Sun Sea.
Canadian Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ambra Dickie said it is aware
of media reports about the vessel, but was unable to confirm the ship’s
current whereabouts, the Montreal Gazette reported quoting the Sunday
Observer exclusive - the ship was heading for Canada.