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Kanishka bombing probe report to be released in June

Canada is set to make public a key inquiry report into the 1985 bombing of the Air India Kanishka plane ahead of the 25th anniversary of the terrorist attack that killed 329 people, mostly of Indian origin.

world Updated: Apr 23, 2010 19:42 IST

Canada is set to make public a key inquiry report into the 1985 bombing of the Air India Kanishka plane ahead of the 25th anniversary of the terrorist attack that killed 329 people, mostly of Indian origin.

The Public Inquiry commission probing the bombing on June 23, 1985, as the Air India flight was en route from Toronto and Montreal to London and New Delhi, will release its final report in June.

Commission spokesman Michael Tansey confirmed the report will come out in June and that a specific date will be announced soon.

For many families, the wait for the report in one of the worst ever air tragedies has been agonising.

"It has been quite frustrating," said Bal Gupta, a Toronto-area resident whose wife died in the disaster. Gupta said the report should have been made public long before the 25th anniversary. "We are hoping for the best, but let’s wait and see."

Former Justice John Major of the Supreme Court of Canada spent almost two years hearing more than 200 witnesses and reviewing 17,000 classified documents.

Those responsible for the bombing have never been found. Inderjit Singh Reyat was the only person convicted in the case, after he admitted to supplying bomb parts. Two others, Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, were acquitted in 2005 on murder charges related to the bombing.

Families of the victims spent 21 years trying to convince the federal government to hold a public inquiry into the attack. That finally happened in 2006. The public hearings wrapped up in February 2008.

However, other issues surfaced last year when more documents turned up, raising questions about Transport Canada’s security measures at the time and suggesting that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was hindered in its efforts by a bureaucratic "quagmire."

The final report will be extensive, consisting of five volumes spanning more than 3,100 pages in total, according to the tender document. The commission also plans to publish four volumes of "research papers," totalling 1,300 pages. Up to 3,100 copies of the report will be printed, the tender said.

Jacques Shore, an Ottawa lawyer who represents the victims’ families, said family members hoped the report would come out before the 25th anniversary.

Many families are looking for "closure that they've never had," Shore said. For others, he added, the report will be "a reflection on issues that had never been properly addressed in the past".