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Officer denies being warned of bomb

A retired Canadian police officer testifies at an inquiry that he was not given a warning about a possible bomb threat to the AI plane.

world Updated: May 29, 2007 12:25 IST


A retired Canadian police officer testified at an inquiry on Monday that he was not given a warning about a possible bomb threat to Air India Flight 182, just days before the 1985 explosion killed 329 people.

The statement contradicted earlier testimony at the Ottawa inquiry by former Canadian diplomat James Bartleman. Bartleman said he gave the warning to a senior Royal Canadian Mounted Police official only to be rebuffed and told police were already aware of it.

The retired policeman, Lloyd Hickman, was the ranking RCMP officer at a June 18, 1985, meeting that Bartleman said he interrupted to deliver the intelligence warning.

"I knew who he (Bartleman) was, and certainly if he would have called me out of a meeting to talk to me I would have remembered that. I had no conversation with him," Hickman told the inquiry on Monday.

The Air India Boeing 747, on a flight from Canada to India, was destroyed by a suitcase explosive over the Atlantic Ocean on June 23, 1985. It remains history's deadliest bombing of a civilian airliner.

Bartleman, who was then a senior official with Canada's Department of External Affairs and now serves as Ontario's Lieutenant Governor, acknowledged to the inquiry he could not remember which RCMP officer he talked to.

The bombing was believed to be the work of Canadian-based Sikh militants fighting the Indian government for an independent Sikh homeland, and who wanted revenge for India's 1984 attack on Sikhism's Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Canada has long said it had no specific warning of the pending attack on the plane, but Bartleman's testimony to inquiry revived long-standing concerns that Canadian police missed opportunities to prevent the bombing and bungled the search for the bombers.

Two men charged with murder for the attack were found not guilty, and a third man pleaded guilty to a reduced charge. Families of the bombing victims demanded the current inquiry in the wake of the trials in 2005.

First Published: May 29, 2007 10:42 IST

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