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B.C. lawyer to launch constitutional challenge against Tamil smuggling charges

Two men accused of organizing the MV Sun Sea's journey to Canada appear in B.C. Provincial Court in Vancouver on Wednesday, May 16, 2012. It was their first appearance on that charge. Lesly Jana Emmanuel is on the left, with Kunarobinson Christhurajah seated beside him.

Jane Wolsak/Jane Wolsak

A lawyer representing one of the men accused of smuggling Tamil migrants into Canada says he plans to argue the charges his client faces are unconstitutional.

Peter Edelmann says Section 117 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is so broad and vague it can apply to most legitimate refugees, including mothers.

The section criminalizes organizing, aiding or abetting undocumented persons to get into Canada.

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The charges stem from 2009 when Canadian authorities intercepted a boatload of Tamil Migrants.

A total of six men are charged in the 2009 case and their trial is set for January.

Edelmann also represents one person charged in a similar case that occurred the following year.

A spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says the section of the law being challenged "is necessary and constitutional."

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