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Canada Acquits 2 In '85 Jet Bombing

The case against the two accused, a millionaire businessman named Ripudaman Singh Malik and a preacher and sawmill worker, Ajaib Singh Bagri, took years to build. In part this was because of official fumbling that the Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper later called "staggering."

The two men were associates of Talwinder Singh Parmar, a Sikh who authorities said led a militant group from his home in Burnaby, B.C. After India's raid on the Sikhs' holy Golden Temple, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service suspected that Parmar had been involved in a plot to kill Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. They put Parmar under surveillance but repeatedly lost track of him.

Ripudaman Singh Malik, a millionaire businessman, is flanked by a sheriff and another man as he is escorted to a car outside the court in Vancouver after the acquittals. (Chuck Stoody -- AP)

"Anyone in the back seat of a car wearing a beard and turban looks like the next guy," a CSIS agent said in a report that was made public last year. Agents tailed the wrong cars and residents called police to complain about not-so-secret spies loitering near Parmar's house. Once, as agents argued with one neighbor, their suspect drove away unnoticed.

Family members said Wednesday that those lapses must be investigated.

"The Canadian justice system has mocked all of us," said John Chatlani, whose mother died in the bombing. "Someone needs to be held accountable."

Parmar, who Josephson said probably organized the plot, returned to India and was killed in 1992 in what police there said was a confrontation with authorities. The charges against Malik and Bagri were largely based on comments they allegedly made in the years after the bombings.

A third man, Inderjit Singh Reyat, was sentenced to 10 years in 1991 for buying materials for the Tokyo bomb and five years in 2003 for his role in the bombmaking that brought down Air India Flight 182.

Geoffrey Gaul, a prosecution spokesman, said government lawyers would see whether there were grounds to appeal Josephson's ruling.

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