Washington: A US court has sentenced two Canadian men of Sri Lankan origin to 25 years in prison each for trying to sell arms to Tiger Tamil separatist rebels, the US Justice Department said.
Thiruthanikan Thanigasalam, 41, and Sahilal Sabaratnam, 30, both pleaded guilty in January 2009 to providing support to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, designated a terrorist group by the United States, it said on Monday.
On Friday, two other men received jail terms for providing support to the Tamil Tigers. Sathajhan Sarachandran was sentenced to 26 years in prison while Nadarasa Yogarasa, got 14 years.
All four men were arrested in August 2006 after negotiating with an undercover FBI agent to buy and export heat-seeking missiles, ten missile launchers, 500 AK-47s, and other military equipment, the department said.
The Justice Department said they were trying to shoot down Sri Lankan military aircraft and that the total arms involved were worth almost USD 1 million.
"The defendants were acting at the direction of senior LTTE leadership in Sri Lanka," the statement said.
The Tamil Tigers have fought for an independent homeland in Sri Lanka since 1972, but were dealt a deathblow in a war last year in which thousands of civilians were killed, according to United Nations estimates.