Judge Who Acquitted Malik Refuses To Reimburse Controversial Sikh Millionaire For Air India Trial Costs

Ripudaman Singh Malik (centre) leaves B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, B.C. with his supporters after he was found not guilty in the bombing of an Air India flight 182 in 1985, Wednesday March 16, 2005. Malikl won't be getting back $9.2 million in legal fees. Malik had admitted in a B.C. Supreme Court case that it would be difficult for him to convince the government to cover his legal bills.

VANCOUVER – The judge who acquitted controversial Sikh millionaire Ripudaman Singh Malik in the Air India trial because of not enough credible evidence against him has now denied Malik his money back in the trial because the judge claims there isn’t enough merit in Malik’s case for being reimbursed the $9.2 million he paid for his defence.

“While this court found at the conclusion of the trial that the Crown had fallen markedly short of the burden of proof required, I find that the applicant has also fallen markedly short of the burden required of him in this application,” B.C. Supreme Court Judge Ian Josephson said.

“The acquittal of the applicant was just that, it was not a declaration of innocence.”

Malik said the length and complexity of the trial, the number of lawyers he had to hire and weak evidence from a Crown witness warranted a judicial review of his case.

He claimed the Crown knew, or ought to have known, that a central witness against him was not credible and that perhaps due to severe public pressure, prosecutors turned a blind eye to the obvious frailties of the woman’s evidence, reported CTV news.

Malik’s lawyer, Bruce McLeod, said the case fell markedly short of the criminal standard when he made his arguments before Josephson last May.

But Josephson, who presided at the Air India trial in 2003 and 2004, disagreed with the Malik’s claims.

“There is no suggestion of wilful misconduct on the part of the Crown,” he wrote in a ruling issued Thursday.

Malik, and his co-accused, Ajaib Singh Bagri, were acquitted in 2005 of mass murder and conspiracy charges related to a pair of 1985 Air India bombings that killed 331 people, mostly Indo-Canadians from the Toronto and Vancouver areas.

Malik also said he spent four years in custody before being found not guilty and that the Crown conceded there was unacceptable negligence in the destruction of surveillance tapes by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

The erasure of the tapes was inadvertent and there is no evidence that it prejudiced the defence, Josephson said.

While defence costs were very high, they weren’t beyond the millionaire businessman’s means, Josephson said, noting that Malik’s wife, Raminder Malik, told a bail hearing in 2000 that the couple had $11 million in assets.

However, Malik then made a court application saying he had no money to fund his legal defence, although a judge ruled that he, his wife, and their children colluded in hiding the family’s enmeshed assets.

Malik received millions of dollars in government money for his defence which he agreed to eventually pay back. However, he later claimed he made the agreement under duress and launched a court battle against repaying the legal fees.

After repeatedly failing to file the necessary documents, he repaid $6.3 million in February.

That was only after the Supreme Court of Canada decided in April 2011 to grant the B.C. government access to evidence that was seized in a bid to prove Malik can afford to pay his multimillion-dollar legal bill.