A Sri Lankan refugee convicted of gang-related crimes has exhausted all legal appeals and will be deported from Canada
Niranjan Claude Fabian has challenged his deportation for eight years, arguing that he will be tortured or killed if he is returned to Sri Lanka. He has admitted his former involvement with a Toronto street gang, but denied any connections to the Tamil Tigers.
The 37-year-old refugee, who came to Canada in 1990, says he faces a risk both from the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers, who have been fighting for more than two decades for an independent homeland in the north and east.
Fabian has been detained since 2001 at a Lindsay jail. The government is making travel arrangements for his removal but will not confirm on what day he'll be flown out of Toronto.
"If anything happens, my blood will be on the Canadian public's hands," Fabian said yesterday in a telephone interview from the detention facility. "I do not deserve this. I paid for whatever things that I did and I apologized to the court ... the past is passed. I cannot change my past."
In a 34-page letter sent to the Toronto Star, Fabian thanks Canada for accepting him and other Tamils as refugees, but questions if justice is being served in his case.
Last Wednesday, Federal Court Justice Anne Mactavish upheld the government's position that Fabian is a danger to Canada, and is not at "substantial risk of torture or cruel and unusual punishment" if he returns to Sri Lanka. The government had earlier stated that Fabian had demonstrated a "criminal mindset," while living in Canada.
In 1998 Toronto police claimed Fabian was one of the leaders of the VVT, whose street warfare with the opposing AK Kannan gang has claimed more than a dozen lives.
He was convicted of assault and forging a Canadian passport that year. Police also claimed he was a "trained assassin" for the Tamil Tigers and alleged connections between the gang and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). But the connection was never proven in court and the claim was denied by many in Toronto's Tamil community.
After serving a seven-month sentence for his gang-related crimes, Fabian remained in detention on an immigration warrant until 2000 when he was released on bail. In September 2001, Fabian was again arrested and charged with credit card fraud. The charges were later withdrawn, but he has remained in custody since then on the deportation order.
A 2002 ceasefire agreement brokered between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers brought peace to the country where a civil uprising had been raging for more than two decades. But this year an estimated 700 people have been killed in Sri Lanka, bringing the country again to the brink of civil war.
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