Montreal

Man who beat murder charge due to Jordan ruling now wants to be deported

The case of Sivaloganathan Thanabalasingham, a Montreal man who saw a 2nd-degree murder charge for the death of his wife stayed only to then be threatened with deportation, took another strange twist Thursday.

Sivaloganathan Thanabalasingham asks to return to Sri Lanka, as Crown appeals his release on murder charge

Sivaloganathan Thanabalasingham, centre, arrives for a detention review at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada in Montreal, Thursday, April 13, 2017. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

The convoluted case of Sivaloganathan Thanabalasingham, a Montreal man who saw murder charges against him stayed and was then threatened with deportation, took another strange twist Thursday.

Thanabalsingham told an Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) detention review hearing that he was dropping his appeal of his deportation order, and that he now wants to be deported to his native Sri Lanka as soon as possible.

This comes as Crown prosecutors are preparing an appeal of the stay of proceedings in Thanabalasingham's case.

It appears as though Thanabalasingham is hoping to be deported before that appeal can proceed and that he'd rather take his chances in Sri Lanka than run the risk of facing a murder trial in Canada, if the Crown wins its appeal.

The unique case presents challenges for the IRB and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), as well as Quebec's Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP).

Murder charges stayed due to court delays

Thanabalasingham, 32, came to Canada in 2004 seeking refugee status, eventually becoming a permanent resident.

In July 2012, he was charged with second degree murder in the death of his 21-year-old wife, Anuja Baskaran.

He had previously pleaded guilty to domestic assault charges.

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

In March, Superior Court Justice Alexandre Boucher ordered a stay of proceedings in that case because it was taking too long to get to trial.

It marked the first time in Quebec that a murder charge had been stayed due to the so-called Jordan ruling.

The Jordan ruling, issued by the Supreme Court of Canada last July, 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.

Thanabalasingham was released.

The Quebec Crown announced it was appealing Justice Boucher's decision.

Deportation order

After his release, Thanabalasingham was immediately re-arrested by Canada Border Services agents.

As a permanent resident, he can face deportation if he's found guilty of a crime. Based on his conviction on the earlier domestic violence charge, CBSA issued the deportation order.

Thanabalasingham appealed that order and was being detained pending the appeal, which could take years. 

Sudden change of heart

At a detention review hearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board Thursday in Montreal, Thanabalasingham told presiding board member François Milo that he was dropping his appeal of the deportation order.

He said he now wants to be deported as soon as possible.

Thanabalasingham told Milo he was tired of being detained in Canada and prefers to return to his native Sri Lanka.

Deporting Thanabalasingham immediately won't be possible. As a former refugee claimant, he's consider a "protected person" in Canada.

Milo told the hearing that the CBSA is prohibited from enforcing deportation orders against protected persons.

Thanabalasingham will have to go through another hearing to officially revoke his "protected person" status before Canada Border Services could begin deportation proceedings.

"It's difficult to evaluate the precise delay before a removal could take place," Milo told the hearing.

What now?

Milo ruled that Thanabalasingham still poses a danger to the public and should remain in detention until the deportation could be sorted out.

He'll have another detention review hearing June 9.

It's not clear what happens now with the appeal of Thanabalsingham's release on the murder charge based on the Jordan ruling.

Jean-Pascal Boucher, a spokesperson for the DPCP, told CBC that the appeal was proceeding.

But Boucher said the Crown has no role in determining Thanabalasingham's immigration status. He couldn't say what might happen with the appeal if Thanabalasingham is deported before it can proceed.

"I can't comment on a hypothetical situation," Boucher said.

About the Author

Steve Rukavina is a journalist with CBC Montreal.