Canada police charge two in murder of Sikh acquitted in Air India bombing

·2 min read

By Ismail Shakil

OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canadian police have arrested and charged two men with the murder of Ripudaman Singh Malik, a Sikh businessman who was acquitted in connection with the 1985 Air India bombing that killed 329 people.

Police found Malik with gunshot wounds before he died in Surrey, British Columbia, on July 14.

Police said at the time that they had not established a motive for Malik's killing nor found evidence to suggest whether the killing was connected to the airline attack, though the shooting appeared to be targeted.

The RCMP's homicide investigation team said on Wednesday that they have charged 21-year-old Tanner Fox and 23-year-old Jose Lopez with the first-degree murder of Malik.

The two men's lawyers could not immediately be found to seek comment.

Information about the charges was included in the notice of a news conference scheduled for 3 p.m. local time (2200 GMT). Police said they did not have other details to share ahead of the news conference.

Malik and co-accused Ajaib Singh Bagri, a sawmill worker in British Columbia, were acquitted in 2005 of charges related to the attack on Air India Flight 182, which exploded over the Atlantic Ocean in 1985 in one of history's deadliest bombings of a commercial airliner.

They were also acquitted of charges related to the killing two baggage handlers who died when a suitcase bomb, alleged by police as designed to destroy another Air India jet over the Pacific Ocean, exploded in Japan's Narita airport.

Canadian police were criticized for their investigation of the attack. The government apologized in 2010 to families of the victims, saying authorities failed to act on information that could have prevented the attack or catch those responsible.

Canadian and Indian police have long alleged the Air India bombing was conducted by Sikh extremists living in Canada as revenge on India for the deadly 1984 assault on the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Sikhism’s holiest shrine.

The raid on the Golden Temple, which the government said was aimed at flushing out Sikh separatists demanding, was a bloody episode that angered Sikhs around the world; they accused the Indian army of desecration.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; Editing by Leslie Adler and Josie Kao)

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