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No Sign of R.C.M.P. Disclosure on Air India Bombing
By KIM BOLAN
The Vancouver Sun, Apr. 1, 2003
"Four members of the R.C.M.P.'s Air India Task Force left for India Monday to make any necessary last-minute preparations related to evidence and witnesses in the case, which is set to go to trial Apr. 28. The trip by investigators who are working closely with Crown prosecutors in evidence preparation was cited in B.C. Supreme Court Monday as one reason why the R.C.M.P. needed even more time to review a motion by several media outlets, including The Vancouver Sun, to have more material from pre-trial hearings made public."
"R.C.M.P. Sergeant Grant Learned said later Monday that four task force investigators left for India on their last trip before the trial."
"Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri are due to go to trial on charges of murder and conspiracy in the deaths of 329 people killed when a bomb exploded aboard Air India Flight 182 Jun. 23, 1985. A third accused, Inderjit Singh Reyat, pleaded guilty Feb. 10 to manslaughter and was sentenced to five years. R.C.M.P. lawyer Jeffrey Hayes told Supreme Court Justice Ian Bruce Josephson Monday that most of the R.C.M.P. members working closely with Crown prosecutors on the trial preparation are unavailable to aid in his response to the media motion."
"Josephson agreed to delay the motion until Apr. 16 at Hayes' request. Josephson also agreed with a lawyer for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service who said the B.C. Supreme Court did not have jurisdiction to release material C.S.I.S. believes would compromise national security or international relations."
"C.S.I.S. lawyer Hans Van Iperen argued that the material in question, a report by the Security Intelligence Review Committee on the 1985 erasure of tapes of Air India suspects' phone calls, should not be released to the media or to lawyers for the media in order to prepare for their motions. Lawyer Dan Burnett, who is representing a number of media outlets including The Vancouver Sun, said C.S.I.S. should have to provide some rationale for saying something could jeopardize national security. Otherwise the process is open to abuse, he said. Burnett also said he is frustrated by the continued delays in dealing with the media application to release more pre-trial evidence."
"As the criminal trial gets nearer, it is getting less and less likely the media issues will be addressed, Burnett said. 'We don't want to be interrupting the trial with a continuation of this,' Burnett said after court Monday. 'Everything gets delayed, delayed, delayed. The clock is ticking down to the trial date.' Burnett raised three issues in court Monday. Even in the case where no party is objecting to the release of pre-trial material, the media has still not been granted access to the information, Burnett said. As for information that is in dispute, Burnett said media counsel should be able to review the material on an undertaking not to disclose it to their clients. Without seeing the material, legal arguments will be like 'shadow boxing,' he said. The R.C.M.P. is seeking to ban publication of almost 300 documents the Crown has been prepared to release to the media."