OTTAWA — A top Mountie is standing by a controversial assertion that the Air India bombing could have been solved earlier if Canada's spy service had not erased key wiretap tapes.
RCMP Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass first voiced the opinion in a 1996 memo arguing that the tapes could have provided evidence to support a conspiracy conviction against the bombers.
Mr. Bass has told a public inquiry he has not changed his mind, despite counter-arguments by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
He said he was not trying to point fingers at CSIS after the 1985 downing of Air India Flight 182 killed 329 people.
Documents tabled at the inquiry show he also feared the Mounties themselves might face criticism of their past investigative efforts once the case got to court.
The belated prosecution of Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri ultimately failed, when a B.C. judge concluded in 2005 that the Crown had not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.