Kanishka bomber’s perjury trial now in January


Vancouver : Inderjit Singh Reyat, the only man jailed for the 1985 Air India bombing that killed 329, will go on perjury trial in January.

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Earlier, there was speculation that the trial will begin soon. The year-long delay has been ascribed to pre-occupation of his lawyer with other cases.

Reyat completed his five-year jail term Feb 8, but was not freed because of perjury charges that could send him to jail for another 14 years.

The perjury trial springs from his lying as many as 27 times under oath while testifying at the Air India trial of bombing suspects Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri in 2003.

Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm at the provincial British Columbia Supreme Court, where Reyat appeared Tuesday, fixed Jan 19 for the start of his perjury trial.

A jury will be picked up a week before the trial. Reyat has applied for bail, but the judge didn’t say when it would be taken up.

Indian-born Reyat, 55, was roped in the Air India bombing by plot mastermind Talwinder Singh Parmar to avenge Operation Bluestar.

Being an electrician, he was used by Parmar to test the bombs intended for Air India.

While testing these bombs in the jungles of Vancouver Islands, Reyat, Parmar and one Mr. X were watched by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

Police picked up Reyat immediately after the Air India bombing. On his release, without being charged, he went back to Engand in 1986.

However, when his role was proved in the Tokyo bomb blast, he was extradited, tried and jailed for 10 years.

On his release in 2001, he entered into a bargain plea for pleading guilty to charges of manslaughter in the Air India Kanishka bombing. This got him another five years in jail from Feb 2003.

During this incarceration, he appeared as a prosecution witness during the trial of Malik and Bagri. But he lied 27 times, inviting perjury charges. Malik and Bagri walked away free.

The perjury indictment lists that Reyat lied when he told the court that he didn’t know Air India plot mastermind Parmar was a terrorist who led the Babbar Khalsa, and that he had no knowledge of the Sikh problem in India.

He also lied when he said that Parmar had asked him “to make one explosive device” while he actually made two that blew off Kanishka and killed two baggage handlers in Tokyo.

Reyat also lied when he testified that he didn’t know Mr. X who was with him while testing the bombs. In fact, identifying Mr. X is now the focus of Canadian investigating agencies

Earlier in January, there was speculation that Reyat has struck a deal with the prosecution to plead guilty to perjury charges in return for a lenient jail term.