Quebec's top court expedites appeal process for accused murderer facing deportation

Quebec's Court of Appeal has agreed to expedite the case of a Sri Lankan man, accused of killing his wife five years ago, who is set to be deported next month.

Sivaloganathan Thanabalasingham had murder charge against him stayed because of trial delays

Sivaloganathan Thanabalasingam, centre, waived his right to refugee protection and asked to be deported. Accused of killing his wife in Quebec five years ago, his second-degree murder charge was stayed. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Quebec's Court of Appeal has agreed to expedite the case of a Sri Lankan man accused of killing his wife five years ago, who is set to be deported next week.

Sivaloganathan Thanabalasingham could be gone as soon as next Tuesday, unless the federal Immigration Minister steps in to halt the deportation.

Thanabalasingham's second-degree murder charge was stayed in April after Superior Court Justice Alexandre Boucher ruled it had taken too long to get to trial.

He was ordered deported in April because of an earlier conviction on domestic abuse charges.

Thanabalasingham initially appealed the deportation order, but a month later asked to be returned to Sri Lanka as soon as possible.

Quebec's Director of Penal and Criminal Prosecutions is appealing the stay of the murder charge. Appeal Court Justice Nicole Duval-Hesler agreed Tuesday to expedite the case and hear arguments in September.

Prosecutor Christian Jarry told CBC that the hope is to maximize the probability that Thanabalasingham is still in the country for the appeal, saying that there's no guarantee he would return to face trial.

Canada does not have an extradition agreement with Sri Lanka.

It remains to be seen whether Federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen will step in to delay Thanabalasingham's deportation.
Prosecutor Christian Jarry says the Crown plans to proceed with the appeal even if Thanabalasingham is no longer in the country. (CBC)

CBC reached out to the minister's office for comment, but they have not yet responded.​

Jarry said that even if Thanabalasingham is sent back to Sri Lanka, the crown still intends to go ahead with its appeal.

"There are questions of principles that are important to the administration of justice and criminal law," he said.

Ruling a first in Quebec

Thanabalasingham spent five years behind bars awaiting trial on the murder charge.

Boucher's ruling in his case marked the first time in Quebec that a murder charge had been stayed due to the Supreme Court of Canada's so-called Jordan ruling last July.

That ruling imposed new deadlines on the justice system to avoid unreasonable trial delays — 30 months from the time of arrest, in the case of serious charges.

In her ruling Tuesday, Duval-Hesler said the Jordan ruling had presented challenges for lower courts and that judges needed more guidance.

She said the Supreme Court was clear in articulating the principle in the Jordan ruling, but not clear as to how it was to be implemented in practice.  

She said she welcomes the request for Quebec Court of Appeal to consider the case.

With files from Steve Rukavina and Radio-Canada's Geneviève Garon