Acquitted Air India bombing accused was ambushed: RCMP

A car was waiting in front of the business of former Air India bombing accused Ripudaman Singh Malik before he was fatally shot, police said Friday.

The car was found ablaze blocks from the Surrey, B.C., business park where Malik was shot Thursday. It had pulled up in front of Malik’s business that morning and waited for him to arrive, said Sgt. David Lee of the Integrated Homicide Investigative Team.

Speaking to reporters Friday, Lee confirmed Malik was “shot several times” in what police believe was a “targeted attack.”

Police said they have CCTV footage of the suspect vehicle, identified as a Honda CRV, arriving at the scene “a short time” before the shooting.

Malik was acquitted in 2005 of mass murder and conspiracy charges in the bombing of Air India Flight 182, which exploded off the coast of Ireland in 1985, killing 329 people. At the same time, another bomb exploded at a Tokyo airport, killing two baggage handlers. Two hundred and eighty Canadians were among the victims, making it the worst mass murder in Canadian history.

RCMP received reports of shots fired on 128 Street in Surrey around 9:30 a.m. local time Thursday. “When first responders arrived, they found (Malik) suffering from fatal injuries,” Lee said.

Whether or not Malik’s killing was connected to the bombings is not yet clear, according to police.

“We understand this is a high-profile international story,” Lee said. “However, we urge not to speculate as to the motive as our homicide investigators will be following the evidence.”

During Malik’s trial, the Crown argued the Air India bombing was a terrorist attack by Sikh extremists against the Indian government, which the year before had ordered the army to invade the Golden Temple, a sacred place for Sikhs.

But Justice Ian Josephson found the Crown’s main witnesses unreliable, and both Malik and another man, Ajaib Singh Bagri, were acquitted.

Meanwhile, Inderjit Singh Reyat was convicted on various charges and spent 30 years in prison for helping to make the bombs, and for lying during trials, including Malik’s. He was released in 2016 after serving two-thirds of his perjury sentence. The parole board said in its decision, “As a result of your committing perjury, the co-accused were not convicted.”

The Air India inquiry ultimately identified a fourth man, Talwinder Singh Parmar, as the ringleader behind the attacks. Parmar was killed by Indian police in 1992.

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