Page last updated at 21:29 GMT, Monday, 23 November 2009

France jails Tamil Tigers for extortion

A Sri Lankan soldier during the conflict with the Tamil Tigers
The Sri Lankan government fought the Tamil Tigers for 25 years

A French court has jailed Tamil Tiger militants convicted of extorting millions of dollars from the Tamil community in France.

Twenty-one people were found guilty, including the leader of the Tamil Tigers in France, Nadaraja Matinthiran, AFP news agency reported.

He received the longest sentence - seven years in jail.

The prosecution said the Tigers imposed what was described as a "revolutionary tax" on Tamil immigrants to France.

Many of the immigrants were political refugees living in Paris and neighbouring areas.

The court heard that Matinthiran was the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) organisation in France.

He was accused of extorting about 5m euros (£4.5m) from France's 75,000-strong Tamil community.

The court also ordered that the Co-ordinating Committee of Tamils-France be dismantled after ruling that it was a front for the LTTE, AFP reported.

LTTE is considered a terror group by the European Union.

Most of the suspects were arrested in April 2007 and charged with criminal conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism, financing of terrorism or racketeering to finance terrorism.

The Tamil Tigers' fight for independence ended this year, when they were defeated by Sri Lankan government forces after 25 years of civil war.

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