Canada

Air India trial focus shifts to Bagri

Prosecution calls evidence Monday against accused bomber Ajaib Singh Bagri, charged with killing 331 people in 1985 Air India bombings.

The Air India trial took a new direction Monday, as prosecutors called evidence against accused bomber Ajaib Singh Bagri.

He and Ripudaman Singh Malik are charged with killing 331 people in two 1985 bombings. Both men have pleaded not guilty to the bombings.

The Crown claims Bagri took part in the Air India bombing plot and later admitted his involvement to a friend, an American who is expected to testify. That witness has been paid $460,000 by the RCMP to come to Canada to give evidence.

Prosecutors will also call a former female friend of Bagri's, a key witness who may not co-operate when she takes the stand later in December.

The woman, whose name cannot be published because of a court order, has refused to speak with authorities and the Crown claims she's afraid to testify.

Prosecutors maintain that Bagri asked to borrow the female friend's car the night before the bombing on the premise he needed to take some suitcases to the Vancouver airport.

The court will also see videotapes of Bagri making impassioned speeches, including one in New York in which he calls for the slaughter of tens of thousands of Hindus and Sikhs.

Bagri's lawyers will argue the speeches prove nothing and that the witnesses have no credibility.

The case has been adjourned until Tuesday.

In outlining the case against Bagri, Crown prosecutor Richard Cairns said the accused is a militant Sikh activist and mass murderer, a high-ranking member of the Babbar Khalsa, a Sikh group that's on Ottawa's list of terrorist organizations.

Bagri, 54, was a sawmill worker in Kamloops when he was arrested in October 2000.