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No new trial for Sri Lankan man accused of killing wife but freed after court delays

MONTREAL — A Sri Lankan man charged with killing his wife but set free after his legal proceedings took too long will likely never get a new trial in Canada, Quebec's appellate court ruled Friday in its decision to dismiss the Crown's appeal.
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MONTREAL — A Sri Lankan man charged with killing his wife but set free after his legal proceedings took too long will likely never get a new trial in Canada, Quebec's appellate court ruled Friday in its decision to dismiss the Crown's appeal.

Sivaloganathan Thanabalasingham was deported in July, rendering the Crown's appeal moot as there is "no factual basis" to believe such a trial could plausibly happen, Justice Allan Hilton wrote in the 4-1 decision.

Thanabalasingham was charged with second-degree murder after his wife was found dead in the couple's home with knife wounds to her neck in 2012.

He was scheduled to go to trial but set free after the legal proceedings took too long. A judge ruled his case exceeded a 2016 Supreme Court of Canada decision that set time limits for criminal cases.

Thanabalasingham, who came to Canada as a refugee and became a permanent resident in 2007, became the first murder suspect in Quebec to be set free under the rules created by the Supreme Court's "Jordan" decision.

But instead of being released, immigration authorities arrested him after they judged he represented a danger to society and was considered a flight risk.

The Crown appealed the decision to stay legal proceedings against him but he was ordered deported to Sri Lanka in the meantime and left the country in July 2017.

Lawyers for both sides argued the appeal was not moot and that Thanabalasingham was still susceptible to being extradited back to Canada.

"None of the reasons put forward by counsel justifies the court adjudicating this appeal on the merits," Hilton wrote for the majority.

"The order for a 'new' trial that the Crown seeks is simply not susceptible of being executed. There is no factual basis before us to believe that such a trial will or could plausibly ever happen. I would accordingly dismiss the appeal because it is now moot."

Justice Nicole Duval Hesler dissented and said the lower court judge should not have stayed proceedings against Thanabalasingham.

"At issue here is a matter of principle that commands that the right of women to be free from the domestic violence systemically directed towards them as wives, spouses, girlfriends, acquaintances or plainly vulnerable individuals be dealt with when needed," she wrote.

"In short, the course of justice, in this case, was thwarted by the executive branch of the federal government."

Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press