Canada's Air India bomber in court for perjury
Vancouver (British Columbia), Mar 28: A man accused of lying when he testified he knew nothing of a conspiracy to carry out the 1985 Air India bombings, which killed 331 people, has made a first court appearance on the perjury charge.
The accused, Inderjit Singh Reyat, is charged for his testimony in the trial of two Sikh separatists who were acquitted of murder charges in connection with the bombings.
Reyat, the only person convicted in the case, has said he plans to plead not guilty to the perjury charge, but he recently told a parole board hearing he was duped into helping collect bomb-making materials.
''I have no sympathy for Mr. Reyat and his web of lies. It's all caught up with him now,'' Ed Madon -- whose father was one of 329 people killed when Air India Flight 182 exploded over the Atlantic Ocean on June 23, 1985 -- said outside of British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver yesterday.
A related and failed attempt to bomb a second Air India aircraft resulted in the deaths of two Tokyo airport workers.
Police allege both explosions were the work of Canadian-based Sikh militants seeking revenge on the Indian government.
Reyat pleaded guilty in 2003 to a reduced charge of manslaughter, and was called as a witness against the two Sikh separatists who were charged with murder in the bombing case, Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri.
During that case, Reyat testified he never asked the name of a bomb maker who stayed for several days at his house in Duncan, British Columbia, or what the bomb the man was working on was intended to be used for.
Investigators have never identified the bomb maker, calling him ''Mr. X'' in court documents.
The court found Malik and Bagri not guilty of murder charges last year, but the judge said in his ruling that he believed Reyat was an ''an unmitigated liar'', whose testimony ''bordered on the absurd''.
''If Mr. Reyat had cooperated from the beginning, then we would not be here today,'' Madon told reporters, saying he believed Malik and Bagri would have been convicted.
Reyat was one of several witnesses in the case, but the only one believed to have been directly involved in the plot.
He was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in the Flight 182 bombing. He had already served 10 years in prison for his role in the attempt to bomb the second aircraft, which instead killed the two Japanese airport workers.
When prosecutors in the Flight 182 trial agreed to reduce Reyat's charge from murder to manslaughter they said they could not prove that he knew for whom he made the bombs or who placed them on the aircraft.
Reyat's lawyer declined comment on the perjury charge, saying he had not yet reviewed any of the evidence. Reyat is scheduled to return to court May 1.