Canadian court releases on bail four Sri Lankan Tamil refugees accused of human smuggling

July 30, Vancouver: A Canadian court on Friday has released on bail four Tamil Sri Lankan asylum seekers accused of smuggling refugees on a ship to British Columbia shores.

British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Gregory Bowden has ordered the release of four men on bail pending their trial, Canadian media reports said.

According to a report in Globe Mail, in June Canadian authorities have arrested Francis Anthonimuthu, 33, Hamalraj Handasamu, 39, Jeyachandran Kanagarajah, 32, and Vignarajh Thevarajah, 33, in the Toronto area and charged with human smuggling. They have been brought to British Columbia to stand trial and appeared in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver earlier this month for a bail hearing.

All four were released on $5,000 bail and ordered to remain at their homes in the Toronto area, the report said.

The men have been ordered to remain in the Toronto area without changing addresses and not to apply for visas or travel documents.

The four men were among the 76 Tamil refugees arrived in British Columbia on a modified Thai cargo ship, MV Ocean Lady in October 2009. Canadian authorities seized the ship and detained the refugees on board.

However, immigration authorities have released the shipload of asylum seekers pending their refugee claims.

The men have been ordered to appear in court in Vancouver on September 14.

If convicted of smuggling more than 10 asylum seekers into Canada the men can face up to life in prison.

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