Italian police arrest over 30 Tamil Tiger suspects

June 19th, 2008 - 1:55 am ICT by IANS  

Naples (Italy), June 19 (DPA) Italian police Wednesday arrested at least 30 people suspected of obtaining finance for Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers rebel group. The suspects, all Sri Lanka citizens, were picked up in raids in several cities including Naples, Rome, Genoa, Bologna and Palermo, the police said.

“The suspects extorted sums from fellow Sri Lankan nationals working as housekeepers or minders for the elderly in Italy,” Naples’ anti-terrorism police chief, Antonio Sbordone, said.

The money was then sent home to finance the rebel group, he explained in a television interview.

Wednesday’s arrests followed an investigation which began two years ago in Naples, when a group of Sri Lankans reported to authorities that they had received threats after organising a peace rally for Sri Lanka.

The suspects are believed to belong to a Switzerland-based Tamil Tigers network with branches in France and other European nations, according to Naples prosecutor, Rosario Cantelmo, who headed the probe in the southern Italian city.

Tamil Tigers rebels have fought since 1983 to create an independent homeland for Sri Lanka’s ethnic minority Tamils, often engaging in bombing campaigns.

The group is classified as a terrorist organisation by the US and several other countries.

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