Air India bomber found guilty in perjury trial


Vancouver : Inderjit Singh Reyat, the only man convicted in the 1985 Air India Kanishka bombing, faces more time in jail after a jury Saturday found him guilty of perjury during the trial of main suspects Ajaib Singh Bagri and Ripudaman Singh Mailk.

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Reyat may be locked for another 14 years behind bars.

The Kanishka flight 182 from Montreal to Delhi was blown off mid-air near the Irish coast June 23, 1985. All 329 people, mostly Indian Canadians, were killed, making it the worst aviation attack in history till 9/11 happened. Another bomb, meant for another Air India flight, also went off at Tokyo airport the same day, killing two baggage handlers.

Both the bombs were hidden in suitcases and checked in at Vancouver airport under the name of ‘M. Singh’ who never travelled with the luggage which was meant for India. At Toronto airport, the suitcases were transferred to Delhi-bound Air India Kanishka flight and another Tokyo-bound flight, with machines failing to notice explosives inside


Vancouver-based Khalistani extremists had planned the bombing to avenge the 1984 army action at the Golden Temple to flush militants. Plot leader Talwinder Singh Parmar, who escaped to India, was killed by police in Punjab in 1992.

After his arrest for his role in assembling the bombs, Reyat — an electrical mechanic — admitted to testing the bomb that blew off at Tokyo airport for which he got 10 years in jail in 1991.

After this, he was given another five years in jail for his role in the Kanishka bombing. He got out of jail in 2008.

But even before he got out of jail, Reyat was slapped with fresh charges of lying under oath during the trial of the two main accused — Malik and Bagri.

According to the prosecution, he lied 19 times under oath to save himself from retribution from militants and save Malik and Bagri. Both Malik and Bagri were eventually found not guilty and freed in March 2005.

Reyat’s perjury trial began earlier this year, and the 11-member jury found him guilty Saturday. The jury came to this conclusion after listening to his recordings of his testimony during the trial of Malik and Bagri.

In his testimony, Reyat said a Babbar Khalsa leader had asked him to assemble a bomb, but he never asked what the device will be used for.

But later he testified that he helped plot leader Talwinder Singh Parmar in his mission to get a bomb to blow up some heavy Indian target because of his anger against the Indian government over “Operation Bluestar”.

Reyat also lied when he said he didn’t know the name of a man who stayed with him for a week in early June 1985 to take over bomb-making after Reyat failed to satisfy the plot leader.

Though the Canadian government spent more than $130 million on the Kanishka trial, none of the main suspects was found guilty. However, 20 Canadian investigators are still actively pursuing leads in the case.