Sivaloganathan Thanabalasingham, accused of murdering his wife, has decided he would rather be deported to Sri Lanka than remain behind bars in Canada.
At his third detention review before the Immigration and Refugee Board on Thursday, he announced his intention to withdraw the appeal of his removal order, paving the way for a much faster repatriation.
But it is not clear whether he could be deported even before a judge hears the Quebec government’s appeal of the decision to stay the murder charges against him.
Thanabalasingham, 31, was set to stand trial in April for the 2012 death of his wife, Anuja Baskaran, when the charges against him were stayed because it had taken too long to bring him before a jury.
He became the first person accused of murder in Quebec to be freed following the Supreme Court decision, which requires that people accused of crimes be tried within 30 months of their arrest.
He had waited 57 months for his trial to begin.
Thanabalasingham was released on April 7 after almost five years in jail, but was immediately picked up by the Canada Border Services Agency.
A week later, IRB member Stéphane Morin deemed he was a danger to the public and a flight risk and could not be released to the care of his brother and sister-in-law. They had both testified that, as far as they were concerned, Thanabalasingham had done nothing wrong, and were willing to put a $50,000 lien on their house as a guarantee.
Thanabalasingham was appealing the deportation order, which would have him sent back to his native Sri Lanka.
But faced with another three or more years in detention before the appeal is heard, he has decided to go back to Sri Lanka.
“I decided I would go back to my country,” Thanabalasingham told IRB member François Milo. “I’ve already done five years. I don’t have any case in court. I don’t know why I’m still in jail.
“They don’t want to release me,” he added, “because of some small problem.”
While the murder charges against him were stayed, Thanabalasingham had already pleaded guilty to three counts of assaulting his wife — once with a weapon. As such, he can be deported for “serious criminality” despite the fact he is a refugee in Canada.
At his second detention review in April, the IRB also considered the police report from August 2012, the night his wife was killed.
Thanabalasingham was found outside their apartment, covered in blood and with his wife’s cellphone in his pocket. His wife’s body was inside. She had been stabbed in the neck.
Given his willingness to be deported, Milo said Thanabalasingham represented less of a flight risk than previously thought. But he said he was still a danger to the public, and failed to present any alternative to detention. His next detention review will take place June 9.
Though Thanabalasingham said he wanted to be deported as quickly as possible, it could still be a long process.