M A I N   N E W S

Canada not to appeal in Kanishka case

Vancouver, May 4
In a disappointment to relatives of the victims of the 1985 Air-India bombing that killed 329 persons, Canadian prosecutors have decided not to appeal against the acquittal of two main accused in the case.

An e-mail sent by the Crown to relatives of the victims said: “Members of the prosecution team, senior members of the Criminal Justice (Branch), have conducted an exhaustive review and have come to the difficult decision that there are no grounds on which the Crown could launch an appeal,” media reports said today.

Justice Ian Josephson of the B.C. Supreme Court had acquitted Ajaib Singh Bagri and Ripudaman Singh Malik on March 16 of first-degree murder and conspiracy charges in the downing of Air-India’s ‘Kanishka’ flight off the Ireland coast and in a separate explosion that killed two baggage handlers in Narita airport of Japan on June 23, 1985.

More than 200 Canadians were among 329 persons killed when the bomb blew apart the Air-India plane.

Josephson said despite its best efforts, the prosecution failed to prove any of the charges faced by Malik (58), and Bagri (55), who had spent more than four years in jail.

He was especially critical of witnesses who testified against the two men, notably a woman who claimed to be in love with Malik and testified he had confessed to her that he was involved in the bombings.

The verdict was a huge blow to relatives who had waited for justice since 1985.

Majar Sidhu, whose sister and her two children were aboard the Air-India flight when the plane was ripped apart in the bombing, said the British Columbia Attorney General’s Ministry contacted him to say an appeal would not be sought.

An Ontario man whose daughter perished in the bombing said he was also told that there wasn’t enough evidence to warrant an appeal. “More witnesses have to come out.”

“If the appeal is not successful, then it’s no good, the wasting of time,” he was quoted as saying. “We’ve already wasted 20 years.”

Lata Pada, of Scarborough, Ont., said she was extremely disappointed that there won’t be an appeal.

“We’ve always tried to be optimistic in building up hope but every time there’s been one more blow to us,” said Lata, whose husband died aboard the doomed flight.

“Now we’re more determined than ever that an inquiry is absolutely a must,” she said.

Some family members, however, have said they fear a public inquiry will be pushed to the sidelines in the event of a federal election. — PTI

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