not guilty in Air India bombings
Vancouver, March 16, 2005
Ripudiman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri
have both been found not guilty of all eight criminal charges
connected to a pair of deadly blasts directed at Air India
airliners in 1985.
According to reporters watching proceedings
in a Vancouver courtroom Wednesday afternoon, B.C. Supreme
Court Justice Ian Josephson said he believed the prosecution
theory that both bombs had originated in Vancouver.
His verdict, however, hinged on the strength
of the evidence the prosecution presented to support their
Alleged confessions from the Crown's key witness
-- a former employee of Malik known as Mrs. X -- failed
to support their arguments, he said.
Josephson's verdict comes nearly 20 years
after 331 people died in a pair of blasts targeting Air
Addressing the heavily-guarded Vancouver courtroom
packed with reporters and relatives of both victims and
the accused, Justice Josephson prefaced his ruling Wednesday
with some of his thoughts on the case.
"This summary does not attempt to capture
the whole of judgment," Josephson said, adding that,
"Words are incapable of capturing the senseless act
of these crimes."
The deadly bombings, he said, found their
"roots in fanaticism at its most base and inhumane
The two B.C. residents were charged in Oct.
2000, almost 15 years after a mid-air bomb blast sent the
Mumbai-bound Flight 182 hurtling from 31,000 feet into the
Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Ireland.
All 329 passengers and crew, including more
than 80 children, were killed.
Less than an hour earlier, at Tokyo, Japan's
Narita airport, two baggage handlers died and four others
were injured when a bomb detonated inside a bag being loaded
onto Air India flight 301.
During trial, Crown prosecutors argued that
Malik and Bagri, both Sikh extremists, planted the bombs
as revenge killings for a deadly Indian attack on the holy
Sikh Golden Temple of Amritsar in 1984.
In turn, the defence conceded the possibility
of a conspiracy to destroy the two planes, but denied Malik
and Bagri had any involvement.
The only other person charged and convicted
in connection with the 1985 bombings is Inderjit Singh Reyat.
He had been slated to stand trial alongside
Malik and Bagri, but in February 2003, he pleaded guilty
to a reduced manslaughter charge.
Admitting that he supplied parts for the bomb
that brought down Flight 182, he was sentenced to five years.
Reyat had already been convicted and sentenced to 10 years
in prison for his part in the Narita airport explosion.
Later, when he was called as a witness in
the trial, Reyat said he had bought parts to make a bomb
without knowing who was going to use them.
Investigators maintain that the deadly plot
had been hatched by the B.C.-based founder of the Sikh militant
group Babbar Khalsa, Talwinder Singh Parmar. He was reported
killed in a shootout with Indian police in October 1992.
Before the Sept. 2001, attacks in the United
States, the 1985 Air India bombing bore the grim distinction
of being the single deadliest modern act of terror. It still
stands as history's deadliest bombing of a civilian airliner.
With files from CTV News and The Canadian