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 Post subject: Hit man for Tamil Tigers aims to stay in Canada
 Post Posted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 4:18 pm 
Alleged assassin aims to stay here
Fighting Deportation: Sri Lankan was a hit man for Tamil Tigers, police say

Stewart Bell
@ National Post / April 7, 2005

LINDSAY - Niranjan Claude Fabian does not dispute that he did bad things after coming to Canada as a refugee. He was a member of a violent Tamil gang called the VVT that shot up and terrorized Toronto neighbourhoods.

He was involved in the illicit Canadian passport trade and was convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. And now he is confined to a prison northeast of Toronto while immigration authorities try to deport him to Sri Lanka.

"Yes, I violated Canadian law," he says in an interview at the Central East Correctional Centre. "I pleaded guilty in 1998, and paid my full dues to this country. Now I am no longer with nobody. The blessing of incarceration is we have access to the Bible. We have a lot of time to think about our past and change our lives. The Holy Spirit changes people."

Fabian, 36, is one of dozens of Sri Lankans whom police and immigration authorities are trying to deport more than three years after they were arrested in a series of raids that aimed to crush the Tamil street gangs emerging in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver. His deportation is being held up by the same question clogging immigration courts across Canada: Can Ottawa deport those who fear torture?

Tomorrow, Fabian is to appear before the Immigration and Refugee Board, which will hear arguments about whether he should remain in detention. Fabian is hoping to convince the authorities he is no longer a danger to Canada. Immigration officials want to keep him behind bars because of his involvement in the VVT.

"The [Canada Border Services Agency] will continue to argue for the detention of anyone we believe poses a risk to public safety and security, and Mr. Fabian's a serious criminal with links to organized crime," Anna Pape, an agency spokeswoman, said yesterday.

When he sits on a metal stool behind the glass partition in the prison visiting room and picks up the telephone receiver, Fabian notes it is Good Friday and says, "I strongly believe that Jesus died for our sins." He wears an orange jumpsuit and his moustache is beginning to grey.

As proof he is a new man, Fabian shares a letter written by the Rev. Benjamin Devadason, a Scarborough minister, confirming his attendance at church and Bible study. "I have observed his desire to totally commit his life to God and live an exemplary life and be a useful, productive citizen of the country," the minister writes.

Fabian's life to date has been anything but exemplary. Born in Wellawatte, Sri Lanka, in 1968, he became involved with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the guerrilla/terrorist group also known as the LTTE, while studying in the northern Jaffna peninsula, and he claims he was arrested and tortured.

He says he was only a non- violent activist agitating for independence for Sri Lanka's Tamil minority, but Toronto police allege he was a trained terrorist assassin. "I don't know where they are getting this information," he responds. "I haven't killed nobody in Sri Lanka. I haven't killed nobody in Canada and I am willing to take a lie detector test on this matter."

In 1990, he arrived in Canada and was granted refugee status. He apprenticed as an electrician, got married and, through "a few people" at work, got involved with the VVT. The gang soon became known to police for its brutality and also for its apparent links to the LTTE.

Members of the Tamil community who publicly opposed the LTTE had their businesses wrecked by the VVT, police said. A Toronto police task force set up to counter the rise of the VVT and its rival AK Kannan noted in a report that "members of the VVT will act as enforcers for the political representatives of the LTTE in Canada.... Extensive links and associations between the VVT and LTTE are common knowledge in the Tamil community. Several VVT members are past/present members of the LTTE, including Niranjan Claude Fabian, former assassin for the LTTE and now second or third in command of the VVT."

Fabian denies the gang was linked to the Tigers or that he had a leadership role. "When I came to Canada, I had a lot of anger built up inside me. We took the law into our own hands, like back home," he explains. "I'm glad this incarceration turned me around."

On what police called "Day One of a new anti-gang war," Fabian was arrested in 1997. Wiretaps showed he had arranged to buy a gun to be used against a rival gang member. The sentencing judge said "his criminal activities and his criminal mindset discloses very little respect for the law."

He was ordered deported to Sri Lanka on the grounds he was a danger to Canadians. He appealed and the order was quashed by a judge, but immigration officials continued their efforts to remove him. Meanwhile, he was arrested again in 2001, this time for allegedly stealing credit-card personal identification numbers from service station customers. The charges were dropped but he remains in detention, awaiting deportation. "Why am I still detained?" he asks.

Fabian remains in detention because Canada still hopes to remove him from the country, Ms. Pape said. Regardless of his status as a refugee, he should be deported, she said. "Our position continues to be that Mr. Fabian's status as a protected person is outweighed by the danger presented to Canadian society."

Attempts to deport him have stalled due to his concerns he might be mistreated upon his return to Sri Lanka. He claims the Tamil Tigers have issued a death warrant against him.

"The Tigers were unhappy with the attention that they had received as a result of high- profile criminal activities committed by members of Tamil youth gangs in Toronto," he wrote in an affidavit.

"In an effort to put an end to these activities, the Tigers issued death warrants for myself as well as a number of other Tamil men who had been convicted of criminal activities."

Fabian says he wants to stay in Canada but is fed up with prison life. "This is breaking point," he says. "I'm not fighting immigration no more. If they want to send me, they can send me. I just leave that option to immigration.

"I'd rather prefer torture and death than staying in incarceration."

© National Post 2005

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