Was it curtains for CSIS agent?

Globe and Mail Update

POSTED AT 6:19 PM EST Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2004


A CSIS agent bought drapes during his first interview with a woman who provided some of the most damning information against suspect Ajaib Singh Bagri, B.C. Supreme Court heard Wednesday.

However agent William Laurie vehemently denied he was posing as a customer at the woman's home business when he was questioning her about the Air-India bombing.

Defence lawyer Michael Tammen, sounding incredulous, asked him about why he knocked on her door unannounced, talked to her for two hours, received “startling information” about the Air-India case and then ordered curtains.

He often did things “that were unpolice-like,” Mr. Laurie said. As a CSIS agent, he was not as confined as the Mounties, he said.

The RCMP follow stricter procedures because they gather information that might be required in court. He gathers intelligence -- rumours, hearsay as well as first-hand information -- and not evidence, he has previously told the court.

Mr. Laurie recalled that the subject of curtains came up during their discussions about the Air-India disaster and activities in the Sikh community. He did not remember if he raised the topic or she brought it up, he said.

Asked if he was posing as a customer, he replied, “Not a chance.”

The court was told that an internal CSIS report written by one of Mr. Laurie's supervisors stated that Mr. Laurie met with the woman in her house “under the guise of purchasing drapes.”

Mr. Laurie said his supervisor was concerned about the woman's reputation being compromised in the community if she was seen to be meeting with a CSIS agent. The supervisor's report reflected their hope that anyone who saw him at her home would assume he was there to purchase drapes, he said.

During his fourth day of testimony, Mr. Laurie also told the court that he may have bought the drapes earlier than he initially said he did.

Last month , Mr. Laurie had testified he bought the drapes during an interview on Oct 7, 1987, around the time of his third interview with the woman. He said he paid between $500 and $600 and the money came from his own pocket, not from a CSIS expense account.

After reviewing internal CSIS documents with Mr. Tammen, Mr. Laurie agreed he made the purchase during the first interview on Sept. 10, 1987.

Information provided to Mr. Laurie during the first interview has been central to the prosecution case against Mr. Bagri.

Mr. Laurie has said the woman told him that Mr. Bagri asked to borrow her car on the evening before the Air-India disaster. Mr. Bagri told her that the baggage was going on a trip, but he was not, and he would return her car afterwards. She repeated essentially the same account of the conversation during three subsequent interviews.

However the woman has told the court that she does not remember any details from her conversation with Mr. Bagri. She also said she was not certain whether Mr. Bagri asked to borrow her car before or after the air-India disaster.

The prosecution alleges that Mr. Bagri was involved in taking two suitcases containing bombs to the airport. Prosecutor Richard Cairns has asked the court to ignore her testimony and accept as true what Mr. Laurie said she told him in 1987.

Mr. Bagri, a millworker from Kamloops, B.C., and Vancouver businessman Ripudaman Singh Malik are charged with murder of 331 people killed on June 23, 1985 in two bomb explosions on opposite sides of the world.

 Bell Globemedia
 © 2003 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.