''Air India bombing suspect not trying to hide his asset''

Vancouver (Canada), Mar 4 : A lawyer representing for Ripudaman Singh Malik, who was acquitted in the 1985 Air India bombing case, says the government has no evidence to suggest that his client is trying to hide assets to avoid repaying 1.8-million dollars in legal fees.

Bruce McLeod has filed documents in a British Columbia Appeal Court showing that two commercial properties owned by Malik and his wife are worth 20-million dollars. The province says Malik owes 7.6-million dollars in legal fees.

B. C. Supreme Court Justice Mark McEwan ordered Malik to repay 1.8-million dollar of that total by last October, but Malik has filed an appeal, Globe and Mail newspaper reports.

McLeod said on Tuesday that a court order freezing all of Malik's assets should not continue, because there's no evidence that his client is conspiring to commit fraud against the government.

"It would not be an effective time in court to permit this [order] but rather I would invite the court to set aside the... injunction."

McLeod told the court that while Malik family's assets may be intertwined in his client's various businesses, his three sons are not taking any action to indicate they're involved in defrauding the province.

Malik and his co-accused Ajaib Singh Bagri were charged and acquitted of mass murder of 331 people in two separate bombings targeting Air India planes on June 23,

Air India Flight 182 exploded off the coast of Ireland after leaving Canada with 329 people aboard. On the same day, a bomb-laden suitcase meant for a second Air India plane exploded prematurely at Tokyo's Narita Airport, killing two baggage handlers.

Inderjit Singh Reyat was the only person convicted in the case after he admitted to supplying bomb parts.

At a bail hearing before the trial began in April 2003, Malik said he and his wife had a net worth of 11.6-million dollars.

Malik, a millionaire entrepreneur, then claimed he needed public money to continue paying his defence team because he had exhausted his fortune fighting the charges in what is the worst mass murder case in Canadian history.

He applied for legal aid, but was turned down in September 2003 after a B. C. Supreme Court judge suggested he and his family were complicit in trying to minimize the value of his estate.

In a separate legal action, the B. C. government is seeking 5.3-million dollars in legal fees from Malik stemming from allegations that he and his family fraudulently conspired to hide assets. (ANI)