European Union (EU) judges struck down anti-terrorism sanctions imposed on the Tamil Tigers by the European Union, citing a technicality, but said on Thursday that the assets of the Sri Lankan group should remain frozen for the time being.
The bloc's lower court said a decision by EU leaders in 2006 to place the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on a list of terrorist organisations had been based on "imputations derived from the press and the Internet" rather than on direct investigation of the group's actions, as required by law.
It said in a statement that the EU had also failed, when following Indian sanctions on the Tigers, to ensure that India gave sufficient judicial protection to those it accused.
However, the court rejected the LTTE's contention that it was exempt from EU anti-terrorism legislation because it was engaged in an "armed conflict" with the Sri Lankan government and bound by the laws of war. The court, which stressed it was taking no view on whether the LTTE was a terrorist organisation, said EU laws on terrorism also applied to armed conflicts.
Saying that sanctions might be applied in future against the Tigers, who were defeated militarily in 2009, the court said assets that were frozen should remain so "temporarily"