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Sikh News Air India verdict-'I am not a saint and I am not a devil'

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by Tejwant Singh, Mar 19, 2005.

  1. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20050319.wxmailk0319_2/BNStory/Front/

    'I am not a saint and I am not a devil'
    By ROBERT MATAS

    Saturday, March 19, 2005 Updated at 1:20 AM EST

    From Saturday's Globe and Mail




    Vancouver — Ripudaman Singh Malik denies any involvement in the Air-India disaster and says he was charged with mass murder because the RCMP were under extraordinary pressure to solve the international terrorism case.

    In an exclusive interview with The Globe and Mail, the 58-year old businessman said the Mounties needed to make arrests after spending so much money on the investigation. They failed to undertake "due diligence" in assessing witnesses they brought to court, he said.

    "Don't make innocent people suffer just because there is pressure on the RCMP," Mr. Malik said yesterday in the first interview he has given since his release from jail Wednesday.

    Looking back over the unprecedented two-year trial, Mr. Malik said he made mistakes that provided a central witness with a strong incentive to testify against him; that he never shared the hostility of some Sikhs toward all Hindus; and that he has always been more committed to promoting education among Sikhs than pushing for a separate Sikh state called Khalistan.


    Mr. Malik denied he had anything to do with the Air-India disaster and said he knows nothing about the terrorist conspiracy that led to the deaths of 331 people on opposite sides of the world.
    "I'm not a saint and I'm not a devil," he said. "I'm a human being. I make mistakes, and I try to make good judgments."

    In the basement of his five-bedroom home in Vancouver's Kerrisdale neighbourhood, Mr. Malik sat with his five children, two brothers, a cousin and assorted friends and supporters as he talked about his court battle to prove he was not the so-called financier of the Air-India disaster; his religion; and his attitude to those who have made his life difficult.

    It is a typical middle-class suburban recreation room, with a Ping-Pong table, a few bulky couches, a set of drums in the corner and a fireplace. Religious chanting could be heard in the background. As an expression of thanks in the Sikh religion, family and friends upstairs were reading the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, from start to finish over a 48-hour period.

    A mid-air explosion on June 23, 1985, aboard an Air-India flight en route to England from Canada killed 329 passengers and crew off the coast of Ireland. Two baggage handlers were killed 54 minutes earlier in a blast at Tokyo's Narita airport.

    Mr. Justice Ian Bruce Josephson of the British Columbia Supreme Court found that the two explosions were part of a B.C.-based terrorist conspiracy to avenge the killing of thousands of Sikhs in 1984 by Indian government troops.

    Mr. Malik has been portrayed for years as an Osama bin Laden-type figure, a religious fanatic who played a central role in the Air-India tragedy: the deadliest terrorist attack in aviation history until Sept. 11, 2001. The police and then the prosecution poured millions of dollars and thousands of hours into the case.

    But Judge Josephson was unequivocal in his ruling: The prosecution had not proved that Mr. Malik had a motive or had associated with the central players at crucial moments in the conspiracy.

    "Twenty years of police investigation has not revealed any independent evidence that Mr. Malik advocated revenge against the Government of India, believed in Khalistan or was a member of any political organization promoting those views," the judge ruled.

    Judge Josephson also found that the three central witnesses against Mr. Malik had no credibility and the Crown had not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

    His verdict, however, did not appear to change many minds. After 41/2 years in jail, Mr. Malik emerged to face the same innuendo and allegations he had met with in the years before his arrest. Police say they stand behind the credibility of the witnesses and have no regrets about how they handled the investigation.

    In a pristine white tunic and scarf, and with the ceremonial Sikh dagger, or kirpan, at his side, Mr. Malik launched immediately into the legal defence against the evidence of the key witness. A court order prohibits publication of her name.

    The woman, dubbed Ms. D in the verdict, testified that Mr. Malik admitted to her his involvement in the plot. She told the court he confided in her because he loved her and she loved him, although they never consummated their relationship.

    Mr. Malik recalled evidence that the RCMP had a wiretap on his phone in 1996 for 90 days at a time when she said they were talking frequently. But during that time, there was only one call between him and the woman who claimed to love him.

    He also recounted that all the damaging evidence repeated by this woman against him had been published previously in books about the Air-India disaster.Mr. Malik said he believes the RCMP, under tremendous pressure to get results, encouraged her to tell them what they wanted to hear. He said they had a theory and then they looked for witnesses who were willing to testify in support of it.

    Continued on Page 2…

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