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Air India: The Verdict

It was deemed the worst act of terrorism in Canadian history: 331 people were killed in two decisive and deliberate explosions — one in a Japanese airport, another aboard Air India flight 182 in 1985. For the families of the victims, most of them Canadian, this was just the beginning. Charges of investigative bungling would be followed by the more startling accusations that CSIS, Canada's security agency, intentionally initiated a coverup. For over 20 years Canadians have grappled with this unsolved crime for which no one has yet had to pay.

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On the charges of murder, attempted murder and conspiracy, Ajaib Singh Bagri and Ripudaman Singh Malik are found not guilty on March 16, 2005. The trial spanned close to two years. The investigation and prosecution of the accused cost $130 million, the most expensive case in Canadian history. In his verdict, Justice Ian Bruce Josephson of the B.C. Supreme Court stated that witnesses in the trial provided inconsistent and untruthful testimony. Close to twenty years after the bombing of Air India 182, resolution seems more elusive than ever, as heard in this CBC Radio report. 
• The proceedings against Bagri and Malik began on April 28, 2003.
• In his verdict, Josephson criticized CSIS for discarding potentially crucial evidence. He deemed the erasing of hundreds of hours of wiretap conversations between suspects "unacceptable negligence."
• The Malik family released this statement after the trial's end.

• Families of the victims were outraged and angry upon hearing the verdict, as heard in this CBC Radio report. Lata Pada, who lost her husband and two children, expressed disappointment in the Canadian legal system. "Today's verdict flies in the face of what we believe Canada to be: a just society," she told reporters. "And certainly a just and a fair verdict was not delivered."

• Other family members called for a public inquiry. Susheel Gupta who lost his mother in the bombing said, "Sadly today, two people accused, with much evidence against them, walked free. And that means justice was not served, regardless of whether these two are innocent or not. No one has been found guilty. That means there must be a public inquiry."

• Deputy prime minister Anne McLellan said that she didn't immediately intend to call an inquiry. "At this point, it's not possible for me to say...that there would be a benefit from a public inquiry," McLellan told reporters.
Medium: Radio
Program: The World At Six
Broadcast Date: March 16, 2005
Guest(s): Geoffrey Gaul, Inderdip Kaur, Jaspreet Malik
Host: Bernie McNamee, Kris Purdy
Reporter: Kelly Ryan
Duration: 4:50

Last updated: April 23, 2013

Page consulted on October 6, 2014

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