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Canada authorities had been warned of Kanishka tragedy: Ontario Lt Governor

May 04, 2007 04:03 IST
Ontario Lieutenant-Governor, James K. Bartleman, who was the senior intelligence officer in the Department of Foreign Affairs at the time of Air India tragedy in June 1985, said on Thursday he saw a record of a specific threat made against Air India for the weekend of June 22-23, 1985.

In his testimony before Judge Johbn Major, he said he encountered an intercept package on his desk a few days before the tragedy indicating that Air India was being targeted that weekend -- specifically the weekend of June 22-23. He said it was raw unevaluated information and he took it seriously.

There was a meeting going on in the Department of Foreign Affairs itself about Sikh terrorism where RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Officers were present. So, he took that information to the RCMP.

Bartleman, a career diplomat, who was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario in 2002, said RCMP officer hissed at him when he showed the information. In his testimony he told the Commissioner of Inquiry that this RCMP officer flushed and told him he had, "...seen it and (he) didn't need me to tell him how to do his job."

Bartleman doesn't remember the name of RCMP officer with whom he had his discussion.

He was devastated when he learned the plane had exploded on a Sunday morning (June 23, 1985) as he and his family were loading the station wagon to go on holidays.

"I had never in my career up to that date been talked to that way... that someone would sort of hiss at me to mind my own business." He kept quiet as he didn't want to be accused of interfering in a policy investigation, said Bartleman.

He, of course, conceded he had never raised the warning with anyone until 2006 when he approached the Commission attorney, Mark Freiman.

Canada Justice Department lawyer, Barney Brucker, challenged Bartleman why he didn't immediately raise the issue of the document with others in his department.

Reports say Bartleman held his ground, and said I know what I saw and it is fixed in my mind. He said despite the passage of time, he remembers the events clearly because of their significance.

This testimony, clubbed with the Air India telex of June 1, 1985, advising RCMP of threat against India's national airline, and what a former Vancouver Police officer said about their information of the likely threat against Air India, make it clear that the Canadian Law enforcement agencies had serious warnings from all these sources but they went by their risk assessment which was contrary to all this information.

Ajit Jain in Toronto