REACTION to my story “RCMP refuse to give up in Air India bombing case: Six fulltime investigators and an analyst still pursuing leads” was one of surprise from readers who wanted to know if RCMP REALLY had six fulltime investigators and an analyst still working on the case.
Former solicitor general Kash Heed told me this week: “If they truly have that many [fulltime] people on it – and I really emphasize “truly” – then they’ve got some significant information that they’re following on.”
BC RCMP Communication Services Sgt. Rob Vermeulen, Senior Media Relations Officer, confirmed to me last week about the fulltime staff on the case. Also, the Air India team has the ability to draw upon resources from the E-Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (E-INSET) that consists of a large number of police investigators.
June 23 will mark the 29th anniversary of the bombing of Air India Flight 182 off the coast of Ireland in which 329 people died and the Narita airport explosion in the luggage meant for another Air India plane in Japan on the same day in which two baggage handlers were killed.
Heed told me: “The only thing from my point of view is, and I don’t have any intimate knowledge of this, but when you have that many people – if they say fulltime, [and] they’re not just trying to placate you to try and make you feel satisfied that they’re looking into it still, if they truly have that many people on it – and I really emphasize “truly” – then they’ve got some significant information that they’re following on.”
However, Kash added that if the RCMP didn’t have fulltime investigators on the case, then they were “just trying to say the case isn’t closed.”
DR. Robert Gordon, Director of SFU’s School of Criminology, told The VOICE: “The fact they have fulltime [investigators] would suggest they are underscoring the fact that these are not just temporary staff or people who are doing other things.
“It may be that they’ve got some witnesses or some leads that the rest of us are not privy to that they think are worthwhile pursuing and they are waiting for (some) success.
“In many respects senior police forces are like elephants, they never forget. They just keep the files going and sometimes – usually it’s a result of luck – the evidence appears. Somebody comes along who didn’t come along before and they say here’s some information that clearly points to a particular individual – that’s sort of how they operate.”
Gordon also pointed out that the case “wasn’t solved by conviction” and added: “Oftentimes police would have gathered enough evidence to satisfy themselves that a particular person or group of people are guilty of illegal activity but not have enough to convince Crown counsel that they should proceed to prosecute because the politics of it are such that you don’t want to go unless you are going to get a conviction.
“Also if you lose the case for want of good evidence, that actually works in the favour of the alleged offenders because they can then publicly say ‘well look, I was found not guilty in this” when there might well be substantial investigative proof but not proof beyond a reasonable doubt that would secure a conviction.
“So they will keep going. They will keep the file open and they will keep looking.”
WHEN I asked Gordon if having fulltime investigators still on the case suggest that the RCMP were really serious about it, he replied: “Well, they are serious about it, that’s for sure, but if for no other reason than politics because it was such an extraordinary crime – mass murder – and it obviously affected a large number of people, particularly in this part of the world.
“And so for the police to turn around and say well, we’ve basically given up now, we’re not going to be pursuing this anymore – for them to do that would be to court disaster amongst the Indo-Canadian community in particular and in this neck of the woods in particular. You can see a lot of outrage flowing from a decision to shut it all down.
“There are those two competing considerations.”
BY RATTAN MALL