Captain Suspected in Tamil Refugee Ship Case Billed $46,000
TORONTO (AP) _ The West German sea captain suspected of dropping 155 Tamil refugees off the Newfoundland coast in August has received a bill for $46,000 from Canadian immigration authorities, his lawyer was quoted as saying Friday.
The Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper quoted lawyer Felix Bohnhorst as saying in an interview from Hamburg that Captain Wolfgang Bindel has no intention of paying the bill, which is for the cost of processing and looking after the Tamils in the first few days after they were picked up from lifeboats.
″It’s not a serious thing,″ Bohnhorst was quoted as saying. ″It’s just stupid. How can they ask something like that. It’s a question of the human rights of those people.″
Once the Tamils were picked up, they became the responsibility of the Canadian authorities, Bohnhorst was quoted as saying.
Bindel, who allegedly received $350,000 for transporting the Tamils from from West Germany to the Canadian shore in his ship, the Aurigae, refuses to discuss the case.
Canadian officials have said Bindel would be charged with violating immigration laws and would be arrested if he enters the country. However, West Germany and Canada have no extradition treaty.
The Tamils were granted one-year residence permits while their applications for political asylum are reviewed. They said they fled to Canada because they feared being deported from West Germany to their native Sri Lanka, an island off southern India that formerly was known as Ceylon.
Tamil separatists have been fighting a guerrilla war against the Sri Lankan government for the past three years. Tamils claim the island nation’s majority Sinhalese discriminate against them.