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'Bagri confessed to Air-India bombings'

March 18, 2004 16:38 IST

A former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Ron Parrish has backed the story of a controversial witness in the Air-India bombing.

The witness claims that one of the accused told him that he was a part of the group that carried out the twin bombings in 1985.

The information provided by the witness was checked with sources in the Sikh community and with the domestic and foreign government agencies. "It never came back as incorrect," Parrish told a Canadian court on Wednesday.

The witness, who cannot be named under a court order, began providing information to the FBI about members in the Sikh community on May 21, 1985, one month before the Air India bombing, the Globe and Mail reported.        

Parrish told the court the witness had told the police that one of the accused, Ajaib Singh Bagri, had gone to Pakistan to meet allies who were to 'commit acts of insurgency'.

Bagri had admitted his involvement in the Air-India disaster in a conversation on September 25, 1985.

Bagri told the witness the Sikh 'right wing' group Babbar Khalsa was responsible for the bombings, according to a report written and read out by Parrish in court.

The witness told the court that he lied under oath on several occasions to obtain his immigration papers in the US.

Parrish, who dealt with the informant until 1989, said the FBI never threatened him with deportation.

Bagri and co-defendant Ripudaman Singh Malik, a millionaire businessman from Vancouver are accused of triggering two explosions on June 23, 1985, killing 331 people.

One bomb went off on Air-India's Kanishka aircraft, which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing 329 people and two baggage handlers were killed at Tokyo's Narita airport in the other explosion.

Another key accused in the bombings, Inderjit Singh Reyat, was charged for manslaughter in the deaths of two Japanese baggage handlers killed at the Narita Airport.

On February 10, 2003, Reyat pleaded guilty to one charge of manslaughter and a charge of aiding in the construction of the bomb and has been sentenced to five years of imprisonment. His guilty plea raised speculation that he would testify against the other two.

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