Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper [official website; BBC profile] on Wednesday formally apologized to the families of the victims [list] of the 1985 Air India bombing [CBC backgrounder] for the government's failure to prevent the attack. The apology comes one week after the Air India Commission [official website], led by former Canadian Supreme Court justice John Major [official website], released a report [text] outlining the government's "cascading series of errors" in preventing and responding to the attack. The judicial inquiry began in June 2006 to further investigate the bombing [JURIST reports]. Harper took responsibility for the government's malfeasance at a memorial service Wednesday morning:
The mere fact of the destruction of Air India Flight 182 is the primary evidence that something went very, very wrong. For that, we are sorry. For that, and also for the years during which your legitimate need for answers and indeed, for empathy, were treated with administrative disdain.At the service, which marked the 25th anniversary of the bombing, Harper also declared June 23 to be a national day of remembrance.
The 1985 bombing downed an Air India jetliner over the Atlantic and killed all 329 passengers, most of them Canadians. The bombing was the single largest terror attack against a Western target before the the 2001 9/11 attacks [JURIST news archive] and resulted in the longest and most expensive trial in Canadian history. Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Sing Bagri were tried on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, first-degree murder of the passengers and crew of Air India Flight 182 and attempted murder of the passengers and crew. The suspects were acquitted on all charges [judgment; JURIST report] in 2005.