Rusty ship intercepted in Strait of Juan de Fuca linked to terrorists

  • Peninsula Daily news news sources
  • Friday, October 23, 2009 12:01am
  • News

Peninsula Daily news news sources

VICTORIA — A cargo ship seized by Canadian authorities last weekend in the Strait of Juan de Fuca carried a Sri Lankan migrant wanted for terrorism, according to two sources familiar with the investigation in British Columbia.

A total of 76 migrants were aboard the ship that arrived early Saturday in Canadian waters under the name Ocean Lady.

One of them was Kartheepan Manickavasagar, 26, who is the subject of an Interpol notice issued by Sri Lankan authorities, Canadian newspapers reported Thursday.

He is wanted in Sri Lanka for an unspecified terrorism offense.

Meanwhile, the Ocean Lady, which was escorted to the entrance of Victoria Harbour, from where the migrants were bused to a Vancouver-area detention center, has been identified as the Cambodian-flagged Princess Easwary, a Canadian government official said.

The ship is owned by Ray Ocean Transport Corp., a company registered in the Seychelles, although its mailing address is in the Philippines, according to shipping records kept by Lloyd’s Register.

The vessel’s operator is listed as Sunship Maritime Services, which uses the same mailing address in Cebu, Philippines. Sunship’s phone appeared to be out of service and an e-mail to the company was returned as undeliverable.

The arrival of the ship in British Columbia waters has sparked an intensive investigation into the origins of the vessel and the identities of the passengers, who arrived with either fraudulent documentation or none at all.

The screening has so far detected one match with the Interpol database of fugitives.

The man is suspected of involvement with the Tamil Tigers, known in Canada and the United States for terrorism and notorious for their suicide bombings.

All the passengers on the ship were reportedly ethnic Tamils from Sri Lanka, an island off the coast of India that is emerging from three decades of civil war between government forces and the defeated Tamil Tigers rebels.

The ship arrived in the Strait bearing a name and number that appeared to have been recently painted over the previous identifiers, but according to Lloyd’s, the ship was built in Japan in 1990 and was initially named Daiei Maru No. 18. It was renamed Princess Easwary in July 2008 and was used to carry munitions for the Tamil Tigers.

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