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Canada to probe Kanishka bombing

The attack on A-I Flight 182 had killed 329 people in history's deadliest bombing of an airliner. The Fateful Day

india Updated: May 06, 2006 19:05 IST

Canada will hold a public inquiry into the attack on Air-India Flight 182, which killed 329 people in history's deadliest bombing of a passenger airliner, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Monday.

The broad-ranging inquiry will examine if security lapses that allowed the 1985 bombing have been fixed, and if police and Canada's spy agency have resolved problems that critics say led to a bungled criminal investigation and allowed two key suspects to walk free.

The probe will also examine if Canada has "adequate constraints on terrorist financing, in, from or through Canada," and if the court system is prepared to handle large and lengthy criminal trials such as the Air India case.

Harper's Conservative Party had criticized the previous Liberal government for agreeing to hold only a limited inquiry into the bombing, despite demands from victims' relatives for a broader review.

"It is hoped that our action will bring a measure of closure to those who still grieve for their loved ones," Harper told the House of Commons in Ottawa.

Air India Flight 182 was destroyed on June 23, 1985, off the Irish coast, killing 329 people on a flight from Canada to India via London. A near-simultaneous attack on a second Air India flight killed two Tokyo airport workers.

Investigators allege the bombings were the work of radical Khalistan terrorists living in Western Canada.

Despite one of the longest and most expensive police investigations in Canadian history, prosecutors were unable to convict the two men charged with murder. A third person pleaded guilty to a reduced charge.

Police and prosecutors have said that they were not able to get enough evidence to charge other people linked to the bombings, although the investigation is still considered to be ongoing.

The criminal investigation was marked by controversy from its early stages, including charges that fighting between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canada's spy agency led to the destruction of potentially key evidence.