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Lankan protesters given bail

2013 Jul 12

A Sri Lankan protester who invaded the pitch during a cricket match between Sri Lanka and India in Cardiff, has been released on conditional bail by a UK court, Wales Online reported.

Manimaran Sadasaramoorthy, 42, of Mitcham in Surrey, travelled to Wales on June 20 this year to take part in a legal protest at the city’s Swalec Stadium against the presence of the Sri Lankan cricket team on British soil.

The team lost to India by eight wickets in the Champions Trophy semi-final.

Pleading guilty to a section five public order offence at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court, the unemployed dad of two told Judge Martin Brown that he ran on the pitch during the match carrying a banner “for the 40,000 people killed by the Sri Lankan government” and a Tamil Eelam flag of a proposed independent state that Tamils in Sri Lanka want to create in the north and east of the country.

The largely peaceful protests in Cardiff followed a violent incident near the Oval Stadium in London the same week, where Tamil and Sinhala activists clashed during the Sri Lanka-Australia cricket match.

Sadasaramoorthy was accused alongside six other protesters, who all pleaded not guilty to the offence and were bailed with the condition that they cannot attend any national or international cricket matches until their trial in September.

An eighth man admitted throwing a stone at a passing car outside the stadium, while a ninth man accused of common assault was unable to submit a plea because he could not understand the Tamil interpreter provided by the court – his case was adjourned until July 23.

Prosecutor David Cooke told the court Sadasaramoorthy gave a false name and date of birth on his arrest and was later found to have “previous convictions for dishonesty”, Cooke said, the last of which was in 2006.

Asked by Judge Brown why he ran onto the pitch, Sadasaramoorthy – who was representing himself – said: “My dad lived in Sri Lanka in the north east and in 2009 the Sri Lankan government declared a war – my father was arrested and they murdered him.”

Saying he was aware the ethnic Tamils had a “grievance” against the Sri Lankan government, Judge Brown asked him to instead explain why he ran onto the pitch on June 20.

Sadasaramoorthy answered: “On the day I went a lot of Sri Lankans were shouting ‘you can never come back to Sri Lanka’, saying if you come there they would kill me, so I told them you are in a democratic country in Britain and that they couldn’t do anything here.

“That’s why I took the flag and ran on to the pitch.”

The judge gave him seven days to pay a £250 fine, £85 court costs and a £25 victim surcharge “in it’s entirety”. Six other defendants who denied public order offences were Regan Chares Kumar Balachandran, 23, of Newham, London, Sukitharshan Karthikesu, 25, of Buckhurst Hill, Essex, Thilakshan Kulasingam, 19, of Mitcham, Surrey, Kaunshanth Maheswaran, 20, of Dartford, Kent, Sivendran Nadarajah, 24, of Mitcham, Surrey and Thayalan Ratnam, 31, of Croydon.

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