15 Tamil Migrants Ordered Released

15 Tamil migrants ordered released
Federal government suspected men were members of terrorist organization

CBC News
Last Updated: Wednesday, December 23, 2009 | 9:23 PM PT
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A total of 15 of the Tamil migrants who arrived by ship in October have been ordered released by immigration authorities. (RCMP)

Eight more of the 76 Tamil migrants who were aboard a ship seized off the coast of B.C. in October were ordered released Wednesday from detention in Vancouver.

They join seven would-be refugees from Sri Lanka whom an Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicator ordered freed earlier this week.

The 15 men will remain in jail for at least another five days while Canada Border Services Agency officials finish checking documents connected to the release orders.

The men have each had to post $7,500 bonds, which will be held by the federal government until their refugee hearings are completed, which could take another 15 to 18 months.

The federal government has kept the men in detention on suspicion that they were members of the Tamil Tigers, a group banned as a terrorist organization in Canada following a violent 20-year insurrection against the government of Sri Lanka.

59 men still detained

The Tigers sought an independent homeland in northern Sri Lanka for the Tamil minority population.

The ship the men arrived on was determined to have a false name. The vessel's actual identity revealed that it once transported armaments and munitions for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the rebel group's formal name.

One of the men aboard the ship was ordered released in October as was another man earlier this month.

A publication ban has been placed on information that would identify the men or give certain details of the immigration hearings that have been held in Vancouver for the past two months.

Wednesday's release decisions will leave 59 of the men still in detention while the investigation into their past activities continues.