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A Sri Lankan national facing charges of human smuggling for bringing hundreds of Tamils aboard a rickety cargo ship to Canada has been arrested in France, Canadian officials said Thursday.
Canada's federal police last month issued an international warrant for the arrest of Thayakaran Markandu, saying they hoped to have him extradited to stand trial.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in a statement commended French authorities for apprehending Markandu.
"Mr. Markandu is currently being held in custody in France and the extradition process has been initiated," they said.
Canadian authorities allege Markandu organized travel for 492 Tamils who arrived in August 2010 aboard the ship MV Sun Sea, seeking asylum.
Canada and Sri Lanka had said the migrants may have included members of the Tamil Tigers, outlawed in Canada as a terror group before their defeat in 2009 after a lengthy civil war. The migrant's asylum claims are still being considered and they remain in Canada.
A conviction for organizing illegal entry into Canada carries a potential penalty of life imprisonment or a $1,000,000 fine, or both.
© 2012 AFP
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