The European Court of Justice has today lifted EU-wide sanctions placed on the Sri Lankan separatist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
The court however, ruled that the group’s assets would remain frozen “temporarily”.
The decision means the lifting of certain restrictions placed on individuals and organizations believed to be associated with the group, which waged a three-decade long war against the Sri Lankan government for a separate Tamil homeland in the north and east of the Island nation.
The rebels, once considered one of the most sophisticated and well-funded terror outfits in the world, were crushed during a sustained offensive by the Sri Lankan government in 2009.
A key component of the government’s victory was to have the rebel group proscribed by the EU, US and, crucially, India where the LTTE enjoyed support, particularly in southern states.
In 2006, the EU followed the US and Canada in declaring the LTTE a terrorist group in a move that had received support from the Indian government.
However, in its ruling the European Court of Justice said that the decision was based on “imputations derived from the press and the internet” and that the “Indian authorities cannot be regarded as a reliable source of information since they have adopted a ‘biased position’ in the conflict between the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka.”
The court’s decision will come to effect after three months.
The Government of Sri Lanka expressed its “concern” over the decision but noted that the decision was based on “procedural grounds” and that the court did not oppose the EU’s classification of the LTTE as a terrorist organization, a labelling that representatives of the LTTE had contested saying its “armed struggle” for independence was internationally accepted definitions of terrorism.