Three more Tamils charged in asylum case

Three more men, including two Canadians, have been charged with human smuggling, accused of organizing the ship that brought hundreds of Tamil asylum seekers to B.C. in 2010.

Nadarajah Mahendran and Thampeernayagam Rajaratnam, both of Ontario, were indicted Monday of organizing illegal entry into Canada in violation of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. They are expected to be brought to B.C. in the coming weeks to face charges.

A third man, Sathyapavan Aseervatham, faces the same charge, which carries a maximum $1 million fine and/or life imprisonment.

The three new accused bring to six the total of people charged with allegedly organizing the voyage of the MV Sun Sea and the 492 Tamil passengers on-board between August 2009 in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand until it docked on August 13, 2010 in Esquimalt.

Two men — alleged ship owner Kunarobinson Christhurajah, 32, and Lesly Jana Emmanuel, who were aboard the vessel when it was intercepted by the Canadian navy — were charged in May.

They appeared in Vancouver provincial court Tuesday for a bail hearing.

Wearing red prison-issue uniforms, the two men stood in front of a judge, hands clasped, as a Tamil interpreter translated the proceedings.

Details about the alleged roles of the six men in the operation were heard in court, but are under a publication ban.

Christhurajah’s case was adjourned to a later date; he was taken back into custody. Emmanuel was denied bail.

Christhurajah’s wife, Mary Patrishiya, sat in the gallery with her brother and 13-month-old baby girl.

Having her husband arrested has been “very hard,” said a teary-eyed Patrishiya outside the courtroom.

“He’s crying all the time,” she said. “We don’t have anybody here.”

She said she and Christhurajah would like to stay in Canada because “there are a lot of problems” back home.

A sixth man — Sri Lankan national Thayakaran Markandu — is being extradited to Canada from France.

Both Markandu and Christhurajah appeared on the radar of Thai police when they were arrested — along with Mahendran and Rajaratnam, two of the new accused — in a Bangkok apartment raid in June 2010, a month before the Sun Sea set sail from Thailand with its human cargo.

Authorities found engine parts, sacks of food and other provisions they believed were going to be used for the sea voyage to Canada.

The men were released after paying a 10,000 baht fine.

Mahendran, a father of three, lives in Ajax, Ont. and runs a South Asian clothing shop in Toronto’s Tamil-Canadian community. Rajaratnam lives in Markham.

According to the Immigration and Refugee Board, as of April 30, six out of the 492 passengers have been accepted as refugees, 19 have been issued deportation orders, and a family of five has abandoned its refugee claims. (The province)