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Key suspect's involvement ruled out

A Canadian police officer testifies before a probe panel that Lal Singh was not part of the conspiracy that led to the bombings.

world Updated: Sep 27, 2007 14:07 IST

A Canadian police officer who travelled to India to interrogate Lal Singh, one of the prime suspects in the 1985 Air India bombing, has testified before an inquiry commission that he came away believing the man was not part of the conspiracy.

Lal Singh, who was suspected of checking bags containing bombs on Air India Flight 182 which blew up off the coast of Ireland in June 1985 killing 329 people, had been taken into custody in India in 1992.

Singh, also known as Manjit Singh, was wanted by the FBI for the attempted assassination of an Indian diplomat in New Orleans and he was a high-ranking member of a Sikh organisation carrying out militant activities in the Punjab.

Singh had tried to consume a cyanide tablet after being arrested, tried to commit suicide by banging his head against a wall, and had tried to bite off his tongue, causing such damage that much of it had to be cut away by doctors.

Inspector Jim Cunningham of the RCMP submitted the inquiry that the interview of Singh he conducted in an Indian police station in 1992 left him believing Singh was not involved in the bombing of the plane. Nor did a police line-up viewed by the clerk who checked in the bags -- who was flown to India for the purpose -- yield a positive identification.

"I would have to say that he was in a position that, knowing or suspecting what he may have provided to Indian authorities and what not, that he had nothing to lose by admitting to it, if he had been involved in Air India," Cunningham said, adding "I did not feel personally that he was involved from my dealings with him."

Singh may have been facing even greater penalties in India for his activities there than he would have been facing in Canada for the bombing of the Air India flight, he said.