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Canada wants Kanishka trial costs repaid

December 16, 2005 12:11 IST

Canada's British Colombia government has sent a letter to the two main accused, who were acquitted in the Air India bombing case, demanding they repay more than $16-million loaned to them during their legal battle.

BC Attorney-General Wally Oppal sent the letter to Vancouver-based millionaire businessman Ripudaman Singh Malik and Kamloops millworker Ajaib Singh Bagri as a first step in recovering the loan, a ministry spokeswoman said.

Both men signed repayment agreements two years ago with BC province for loans they took out to cover their legal expenses during the trial, and according to a ministry spokeswoman, the letter is the first step in recovering those loans.

The next step, if the men were unable to repay their loans, would be to seize their assets, Canadian daily The Globe and Mail said.

Malik and Bagri have yet to respond to the letter, according to the ministry. But the two, had reportedly attempted to negotiate a smaller settlement, which was rejected by the ministry.

Both men were acquitted of murder charges in March in connection with the 1985 Kanishka bombing that claimed the lives of nearly 329 people off the Irish coast.

The investigation and trial spanned 20 years and was the costliest in Canadian history, estimated at about $130-million.

Cost estimates of the trial made public in November had said that Bagri and Malik owe the Canadian government 9.7 million and 6.4 million respectively. The total cost was almost $60 million.

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