Air India 182 - Accept bomb expert's word, prosecutor urges
Metallurgist knows more about structural damage, judge in Air-India trial told

Friday, November 5, 2004 - Page A8
E-mail this Article E-mail this Article
Print this Article Print this Article   
VANCOUVER -- One plan, two bombs. It sounds obvious to anyone familiar with the Air-India disaster.

Media reports for 19 years tied the explosion at Tokyo's Narita airport on June 23, 1985, with a mid-air explosion on an Air-India flight over the Atlantic Ocean 54 minutes later.

However, pinpointing the exact location of the bomb on the Air-India aircraft has been one of the more difficult aspects of the mammoth international terrorism trial, prosecutor Robert Wright said yesterday.

Defence lawyers presented evidence suggesting the explosion aboard the Air-India flight occurred in a bulk cargo bin holding luggage checked in at Toronto's Pearson airport.

If that is accepted by the trial judge, the case against defendants Ajaib Singh Bagri and Ripudaman Singh Malik could collapse.

The prosecution says the two men were part of a group that put the bomb on a flight from Vancouver and the explosion occurred in a cargo bin holding baggage from Vancouver.

underwater photo

During the fourth day of the prosecution's final submission, Mr. Wright urged the Air-India trial judge to accept the evidence of Christopher Peel, a highly respected physical metallurgist who was involved in the Lockerbie bombing investigation.

Mr. Peel identified the location of the bomb on the Air-India flight based largely on bulges, structural damage and the apparent direction of cracks in parts of the fuselage pulled from the ocean. He also testified on the significance of the size of the large blast hole in the fuselage, where no parts of the aircraft's luggage bin have been found.

Mr. Wright attacked the testimony of internationally recognized experts Frank Taylor, who analyzed the trail of wreckage in the water in order to identify the sequence of the aircraft breaking up, and Edward Trimble, who has investigated 75 aircraft accidents.

Mr. Wright said he was not critical of the qualifications of defence witnesses Mr. Taylor and Dr. Trimble. However, they are experts in analysis of aviation accidents, not of structural damage caused by bomb explosions

"In the simplest terms, this is no accident," Mr. Wright said. Assessing structural damage caused by a bomb is a highly specialized field, he said.

"The good news for society is that a bomb does not go off very often," Mr. Wright said. The bad news is that the infrequency of bombings means it's hard to have experts speak knowledgeably, he added.

Only 5 per cent of the aircraft was recovered after the explosion. Analysis of the recovered wreckage indicated the

underwater photo

 crash was not caused by malfunction of equipment, metal fatigue or corrosion.

Part of the basis for concluding the breakup of the plane was caused by a bomb is that all other possibilities have been eliminated, Mr. Wright said.

However, the prosecution theory of linking the explosion to luggage checked in at Vancouver airport was also corroborated by the evidence of one plan, two bombs, Mr. Wright added.

One person booked two tickets in Vancouver for flights connecting to two different Air-India flights, he said. One person picked up the two tickets. One bag was checked on each ticket. Neither ticket was used to board the flight.

Although it might be expected that the passengers would have asked for a refund on the unused ticket, no one ever asked for their money back, he said.

One of the pieces of luggage checked in at Vancouver contained a bomb that exploded in Japan. The only logical inference is that Air-India Flight 182 was also destroyed by a bomb originating in Vancouver, Mr. Wright said.

from link

Air India 182 Report  and Summary



Return to Latest Additions