Two men accused of blowing up an Air India 747 in 1985 have been found not guilty in vancouver,Thursday.
In finding the two co-accused not guilty, British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Ian Bruce Josephson said some prosecution key witnesses appeared to be liars, their testimony was unbelievable and he was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt.
The ruling set free 58 year-old millionaire Ripudaman Singh Malik and 55 year old forestry worker Ajaib Singh Bagri.
Both men were charged with the mid-air explosion of an Air India jetliner off the coast of Ireland, a near simultaneous explosion in Japan's Narita Airport, and attempting to murder the passengers of another Air India flight. Three-hundred-twenty-nine passengers were killed on the jetliner and two baggage handlers died in Japan.
Outside the courtroom, Bagri's youngest daughter stood beside her father and read a prepared statement, repeating his claim of innocence.
"But I want to repeat publicly today that I have told the authorities numerous times since 1985, that I had
absolutely no involvement in any of these criminal activities," he stated. "The loss of so many innocent lives resulting from these events in an enormous tragedy."
The judge did agree with the prosecution that the bombs were made and planted on connecting flights in
Vancouver and there was a conspiracy to commit the crimes.
Geoff Gaul, spokesperson for the prosecution, refused to criticize the judge or give a detailed reaction to
the ruling. Still, despite the not guilty verdict, Mr. Gaul says prosecutors are satisfied that they presented the best case possible.
"We believe we had a case to present and we are satisfied that all of the efforts that we made were in the aim of attaining justice," said Mr. Gaul. "At the end of the day, we have to respect the process and we respect the judge's reasons."
Prosecutors say they will immediately look over the 625-page judgment and then decide in the next thirty days if they will appeal.
Speaking to media in an emotional press conference after the verdict, families of those killed are now asking the Canadian government to hold a federal inquiry.
Bal Gupta, who was 12 years old when his mother was perished, is hoping it will uncover problems with the police investigation, justice system, and security lapses that allowed the bombing to happen.
"This was murder, pure and simple. Murder. Murder in any system of justice demands: justice," said Mr. Gupta. "If the murder of 329 people, including over 200 real Canadian men, real Canadian women and real Canadian children - everyone of them a real loving individual as a result of failures in the system does not deserve a public inquiry, I don't really know what does."
The only person convicted in the bombings, Inderjit Singh Reyat, was originally set to stand trial with Mr.
Malik and Mr. Bagri. He made a plea bargain with prosecutors in February 2003 and received a five-year
sentenced for the manslaughter of the 329 jet passengers. He previously served ten years for the bombing
The judge dismissed his testimony as a key prosecution witness, saying he was an unmitigated liar and
that he was vague, bordering on the absurd.
Police are estimating the entire investigation will cost about $180 million ($100 million Canadian). They also say the investigation into the bombing is ongoing, but will not indicate if there are any other suspects.
The court case itself took over 348 days of hearings.