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Kanishka inquiry report to be released on Thursday

June 14, 2010 12:49 IST

A quarter-century after Canada's worst terrorist attack killed 329 people, an inquiry commission will make its report into the 1985 Kanishka bombing public this week, outlining recommendations about how to prevent such tragedies in future.

The report by the Public Inquiry Commission on the Air India bombing is expected to be delivered to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and be made public on Thursday. The report is the product of nearly four years of work by former Supreme Court justice John Major and a staff of lawyers and researchers.

The five volumes will total nearly 4,000 pages of historical narrative, factual findings by Major and recommendations for policy reforms. The Commission of Inquiry was established by Prime Minister Harper on May 1, 2006, to provide a report on the events surrounding the bombing of Air India Flight 182.

All of the 329 people on board the aircraft died when it exploded over the Atlantic Ocean on June 23, 1985. Eighty- two of the victims were children and 280 were Canadian citizens.

The flight, from Montreal was headed to Delhi with Mumbai as its final destination. The explosion was orchestrated by supporters of the Khalistan movement. The trial Sikh separatists accused in the bombing--Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, concluded in 2005 and both were acquitted due to inadequate evidence.

The only person convicted of involvement in the bombing was Inderjit Singh Reyat, who pleaded guilty in 2003 to manslaughter in constructing the bomb used on Flight 182 and received a five-year sentence. Justice Major had noted at the first hearing that the Inquiry is not connected to nor involved with ongoing police investigations or court proceedings related to the explosion. "This Inquiry will not focus on dissecting the past," he had said.

"It will look to how we can establish parameters for the future – to help shape a system that contains sufficient safeguards to prevent tragedies from occurring". While the Commission has broad powers of subpoena, it is not a court of law. It cannot find guilt nor make any award, according to an opening statement issued by the Commission on June 26, 2006.

The Commission heard from more than 200 witnesses during the investigation into the June 23, 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182. There were no survivors among the 329 people on board. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation last night telecast a special report about the Air India bombing.

Bal Krishna in Toronto