Kanishka bombing: Canadian police question terrorists on death row (Lead)

November 12th, 2008 - 8:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Nov 12 (IANS) Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officials Wednesday questioned two Babbar Khalsa terrorists inside the high-security Burail jail here for their alleged involvement in the mid-air bombing of Air India’s Kanishka flight in June 1985.The RCMP officers questioned the two terrorists, Jagtar Singh Hawara and Paramjit Singh Bheora, in the presence of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Chandigarh police officials.

No details were made available about the interrogation of the terrorists carried out by RCMP officials.

Lawyers of Hawara and Bheora Wednesday moved an application before the additional district and sessions judge R.K. Sondhi here seeking withdrawal of the permission granted by the court to the RCMP to question the two.

They objected to the permission saying the RCMP had no territorial jurisdiction to do so and that too when both were in judicial custody.

The judge put up the case for hearing Nov 17 even as both were questioned Wednesday itself.

Both terrorists are lodged in the prison after a local court here sentenced them to death last year for their involvement in the assassination of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in August 1995.

The Mounties are re-investigating the Kanishka bombing to arrive at fresh evidence to nail suspects acquitted in the case.

The RCMP had in January this year asked the security agencies here for help to interview 12 witnesses who it pointed out could have information regarding the Kanishka bombing, which left all 329 passengers on board the aircraft dead near the coast of Ireland. The flight had taken off from Toronto.

The RCMP team had Tuesday met top officials of the Punjab police, Chandigarh police and the CBI to seek help in interviewing certain terrorists who were in prisons in Chandigarh and Punjab.

The RCMP team comprises police officials James Stewart, Bart Balchford, Dan Bond, Dan Sandhar and Tuckey Shane.

The Punjab police had sat over the earlier RCMP letter seeking to interview the witnesses mentioned. The Chandigarh police had written back asking the RCMP to come via the government channel since the terrorists were in court custody.

The complete list included the names of Harminder Singh Gandhi, Naudh Singh Thind, Jivan Singh, Mohan Singh Johal, Kanwaljit Singh, Sukhjinder Singh, Pratap Singh Gill, Satnam Singh, Bohar Singh and former top intelligence official Maloy Krishna Dhar.

The RCMP has reopened the investigation into the flight bombing even after a March 2005 verdict by the Supreme Court of British Columbia acquitting two suspects, Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri. The court had observed that the evidence against them had fallen short of conclusive proof.

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