ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland’s Attorney General has filed charges against 13 people accused of raising millions of dollars to buy weapons for the Tamil Tigers fighters during the civil war in Sri Lanka.
The indictment alleges that the people collected around 15 million Swiss francs ($15.2 million) during the late 1990s and early 2000s to support the organization, which has the formal title the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
The accused, who have not been identified, come from Switzerland, Germany and Sri Lanka. They have been indicted with supporting or being members of a criminal organization, fraud, false certification, and money laundering, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) said on Wednesday.
In 2009, the Sri Lankan government ended its 26-year conflict with the Tamil Tigers, who had been fighting for an independent Tamil state in the north and east of the Indian Ocean island.
The OAG did not disclose the names of the accused.
It said money was raised from members of the Sri Lankan community in Switzerland through micro-credit loans from a bank in Zurich and channeled through an offshoot known as the World Tamil Coordinating Committee.
Tamil Tiger leaders in Switzerland “devised and implemented a systematic and rapid method for obtaining money from the Tamil diaspora in Switzerland,” the OAG said in a statement on Wednesday.
“As the investigations carried out by the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland with the support of the federal police show, substantial sums of money were obtained from the diaspora community using couriers and loans,” it said.
The funding system stopped in 2009 following the end of the civil war, the OAG said.
The matter will now be considered by the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, although no date was given for a hearing.
Reporting by John Revill