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Globe and Mail Update

Air-India case timeline

THE BOMBING

June 23, 1985: 0218 GMT -- Air-India Flight 182 departs Montreal for London, en route to Delhi and Bombay. There are 329 people aboard the Boeing 747 -- 307 passengers and 22 crew. Most of the passengers are Canadian. The 747 is named Kanishka, after a powerful Indian king who ruled in the first century AD. Although he was a devout follower of Buddhism, which preaches non-violence, Kanishka met a violent end -- he was murdered by some of his subjects.

June 23, 1985: 0620 GMT -- At Japan's Narita airport, an explosion in the baggage handling area kills two baggage handlers and injures four others. Investigators later determine that the bomb was in a suitcase being transferred from a Canadian airliner onto an Air-India flight.

June 23, 1985, 0714 GMT -- The transponder signal from Air-India 182 suddenly stops, causing it to disappear from radar screens at an international flight monitoring centre located in Shannon, Ireland. Until its disappearance, the aircraft had been cruising at 31,000 feet. The wreckage falls into the ocean about 175 kilometres off the southwest coast of Ireland, killing all 329 people aboard.

June 23, 1985, 0730 GMT -- Shannon radar centre notifies marine authorities that a plane has gone missing. Ships and aircraft begin converging, but all that is left for them was the grisly task of collecting the bodies. When the search was suspended, about 15 hours after the crash, 123 bodies had been recovered. By the end of the recovery, 132 bodies are found.

THE INVESTIGATION

June 24, 1985 -- Investigators and officials from India, the United States, Canada and Ireland arrive in Shannon. Recovery of the wreckage is complicated by the extreme depth at the crash site. The remains of the 747 lie under 2,010 metres of water. Initial examination of wreckage and bodies leads investigators to believe that the 747 was blown apart in midair, and that at least some of the passengers were alive as they fell toward the Atlantic. When submersibles locate the wreckage on the ocean floor, they find initial evidence that suggests an explosion.

July 16, 1985 -- Flight 182's data recorders reveal normal conversation among the flight crew, then a loud bang that ends the recording.

Sept. 10, 1985 -- Two B.C. Sikh fundamentalists are taken into custody by police on explosives charges in connection with the Narita airport bombing. The two are Inderjit Singh Reyat, of Duncan, and Talwinder Singh Parmar, of Burnaby, a Sikh priest and founder of the fundamentalist Babbar Khalsa Religious Society of Canada. Mr. Reyat, a friend of Mr. Parmar, belongs to the International Sikh Youth Federation. Although the arrests lead to widespread speculation that the Air-India bombing is about to be solved, that does not prove to be the case: charges against Mr. Parmar are eventually dropped for lack of evidence, and Mr. Reyat is charged with a minor offence, unrelated to Air-India. Mr. Parmar later acknowledges that he is considered a prime suspect in the Air-India bombing.

Jan. 22, 1986 -- The Canadian Aviation Safety Board formally concludes that a bomb brought down Air-India Flight 182.

May 11, 1986 -- Federal Solicitor-General James Kelleher says new evidence discovered in the case may lead to charges, but warns that the evidence gathered so far is insufficient to get a conviction in court.

November, 1987 -- The head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service resigns after it is revealed that the agency submitted a misleading affidavit in 1985 in order to obtain a wiretap warrant from a judge as they investigated suspected Sikh terrorists. Liberal MP John Nunziata accuses CSIS of bungling the investigation of the Air-India crash so badly that criminal charges may never be laid.

Feb. 5, 1988 -- Inderjit Singh Reyat is arrested in England in connection with the Narita airport bombing. Soon after Mr. Reyat's arrest, Talwinder Singh Parmar leaves Canada for India.

Aug. 10.1988 -- A British court orders Mr. Reyat's extradition to Canada.

Aug. 7, 1989 -- Submersibles begin a new search of the underwater wreckage site off the Irish coast.

Aug. 21, 1989 -- Canadian investigators confirm they have found new evidence in the Air-India bombing, but refuse to make it public.

Jan. 30, 1990 -- Citizens Alliance for a Public Inquiry into the Air-India Disaster claims RCMP are blocking its bid for a public inquiry.

May, 1991 -- Mr. Reyat is convicted in Vancouver of manslaughter and four explosives charges related to the Narita airport bombing. Liberal MP John Nunziatia says RCMP know who bombed the plane but don't have evidence needed for prosecution.

June 22, 1991 -- The editor of an Indo-Canadian newspaper says the people who had a bomb placed aboard Air-India are well known within Vancouver's Sikh community. Among them are the people who took the bombs to the airport and checked in the luggage that contained the bomb. The editor says the killers are prospering, moving into bigger houses, and thriving in the community. He says police also know the names of those involved, and speculates that charges have not been laid because Crown lawyers are afraid that if one case is not proved beyond a reasonable doubt, judges may throw out all subsequent charges.

Oct. 15, 1992 -- Key Air-India bombing suspect Talwinder Singh Parmar, who returned to India after Mr. Reyat's arrest in 1988, dies after a battle with Indian police.

Feb. 3, 1994 --Solicitor-General Herb Gray says a royal commission into the air disaster hasn't been ruled out, but declines to order one.

April 13, 1994 -- RCMP say they have spent $20-million on the Air-India investigation, and are still working on the case.

May 17, 1995 -- Federal authorities say they believe the Air-India bombing was carried out by six to eight people involved in the fight for an independent Sikh state, and that the bomb was timed to explode on the ground, but went off in the air because Flight 182 left Montreal one hour and 38 minutes late. Later that month, RCMP announce a $1-million reward for help catching Air-India bombers.

Dec. 11, 1996 -- RCMP announce that they expect to lay charges against several suspects in the bombing within a few months. No charges are laid.

April 14, 1997 -- RCMP announce they are pushing back completion date of a probe into the Air-India case until early fall.

Oct. 15, 1998 -- RCMP announce they have handed their Air-India report to British Columbia's Crown counsel office, which may allow them to bring charges in the bombing.

Jan. 26, 2000 -- A former CSIS agent tells The Globe and Mail that a turf war between his agency and the RCMP led him to destroy taped interviews with Air-India sources rather than hand them over to his rivals at the RCMP.

June 19, 2000 -- Days before the 15th anniversary of the Air-India tragedy, an official with B.C.'s Ministry of the Attorney-General says a team of 12 prosecutors is moving closer to deciding whether the evidence gathered so far warrants charges, but cautions that "nothing is imminent or pending." John Nunziata, an Independent member of Parliament who has continued his crusade for an Air-India inquiry for more than a decade, says the Air-India bombing is "off the radar screen in Ottawa."

June 26, 2000 -- Documents obtained by The Globe and Mail reveal that police have identified a third suspect in the Air-India investigation. The documents indicate that a link has been established between the suspect and Mr. Reyat, who is still in prison after being convicted in connection with the Narita airport bombing. Although police do not name the suspect, they say he has significant financial ties to Mr. Reyat's family.

Oct. 27, 2000 -- Ripudaman Singh Malik, 53, and Ajaib Singh Bagri, 51, are arrested and charged with the murder of 329 people.

THE TRIAL

December, 2000, January, 2001 -- Bail hearings for the accused; bail denied.

May 22, 2001 -- Court imposes publication ban on pretrial proceedings.

June 5, 2001 -- Inderjit Singh Reyat is arrested and charged with murder in connection with the Air-India bombing.

Dec. 5, 6 and 7, 2001 -- Mr. Reyat asks court to consider charges against him separately.

April 29, 2002 -- Most of Mr. Reyat's lawyers withdraw from the case.

May 9, 2002 -- Trial now to begin with jury selection March 31, 2003.

June 3, 2002 -- Court rules against admitting attempted-murder evidence in Air- India trial, but allows Mr. Bagri's Madison Square Garden speech subject to editing.

June 7, 2002 -- Court rules that Mr. Bagri's constitutional rights were violated by CSIS destruction of wiretap tapes.

Feb. 10, 2003 -- In a dramatic turn of events, Mr. Reyat pleads guilty to manslaughter, sentenced to five years in prison.

April 17, 2003--A publication ban on 8,000 court documents is lifted

THE TRIAL BEGINS

April 28, 2003--The historic mass murder trial begins in Vancouver

May, June, 2003--The trial hears that Canada's spy agency may have had a mole among the group of Vancouver Sikhs who later became suspects in the Air-India bombing, and the agency may have pulled him out just before the bombs were allegedly taken to the airport, police documents indicate during the trial.

June 24, 2003--The trial hears evidence for the first time indicating a link between alleged murderers Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri in 1985 before the bombing in the form of phone calls between their residences.

Sept. 10, 2003--Inderjit Singh Reyat, the only person to be convicted in the Air-India disaster of 1985, testified in a calm voice about acquiring items used in bombs to kill 331 people. But Mr. Reyat did not link Mr. Malik or Mr. Bagri to the crash.

November, 2003--The Crown's star witness begins testifying. Both the prosecution and the defence say the $100-million case rests largely on her credibility. The woman testifies that Mr. Malik confessed to her the bombing of the Air-India plane. She also spoke at length of the relationship she shared with Mr. Malik, saying he confided in her because they were in love. I love Mr. Malik. "He loved me. We shared birthdays; we shared presents. We cared for each other," she said.

Dec. 15, 2003--A key witness refuses to provide crucial evidence against Mr. Bagri, saying she did not remember what she told police in the 1980s. The Crown attempts, and fails, to have her declared a hostile witness.

Jan. 8, 2004-- Attempted murder charges against Mr. Bagri in connection with a separate shooting of newspaper publisher Tara Singh Hayer in 1988 are thrown out after the Crown says the evidence against him is no longer available.

March 1, 2004--An FBI informant testifies that Mr. Bagri told him a few weeks after the disaster that he was involved in the bomb attacks. The informant said he was "shocked" to hear Mr. Bagri say "We did this."

March 5, 2004--The case against Mr. Bagri received a huge boost with a ruling that a conversation recounted by a woman friend of Mr. Bagri could be considered as evidence in the trial. The woman told a CSIS agent that Mr. Bagri came to her home and asked to use her car to take baggage to the airport. Mr. Bagri told her that the baggage was taking a trip but he was not. She refused to give him the car, but the prosecution alleges Mr. Bagri had intended to use the car to take baggage with explosives to the airport.

May 14, 2004--A conspiracy theory linking the Air-India disaster to a co-pilot on the flight or to Indian government diplomatic pouches aboard the plane is been ruled out.

Aug. 16, 2004--Defence witness Balbir Singh Gharala contradicts key details in the prosecution's case against Mr. Bagri.

Aug. 30, 2004--Mr. Bagri and Mr. Malik won't testify in their own defence at the historic international terrorism trial, Mr. Bagri's lawyer says.

Oct. 19, 2004--The final phase in the Air-India trial begins with submissions on whether the court can believe witnesses who testified about the involvement of Vancouver millionaire businessman Ripudaman Singh Malik in the killing of 331 people. Defence lawyers for co-defendant Ajaib Singh Bagri then begin their final submissions the next week, and Crown prosecutors make their submissions in November of 2004.

Dec. 3, 2004--After 217 days of listening to evidence and legal arguments, Mr. Justice Ian Bruce Josephson withdraws to consider his verdict in the Air-India trial.

March 16, 2005--Verdict is expected.

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