1985's Air India bomb plotter guilty of perjury
Published 19/09/2010 | 05:00
THE only person convicted in the 1985 Air India bombing that killed 329 people off the Co Cork coast was found guilty yesterday of perjury during the trial.
The British Columbia Supreme Court jury found Inderjit Singh Reyat guilty of lying under oath during his testimony in the trial against his alleged co-conspirators in the plot, Ajaib Singh Bagri and Ripudaman Singh Malik. They were acquitted of first-degree murder and conspiracy in 2005 after a trial lasting almost two years.
The maximum sentence for perjury is 14 years in jail, but sentences are more routinely in the range of two to three years.
Flight 182 from Montreal to Heathrow disappeared from radar off the Irish coast on June 23, 1985, when a bomb exploded and killed all 329 people on board.
Reyat was convicted for his role in gathering materials for the bomb and was sentenced to five years in jail after pleading guilty to manslaughter in February 2003.
He was charged with perjury in 2006. He has been out on bail since July 2008.
Prosecutors told jurors this week that Reyat did not tell the truth under oath to minimise his involvement in the bombing and to protect people who conspired to bomb the two Air India planes.
An hour before the bombing of Flight 182, a bag destined for another Air India flight exploded at Tokyo's Narita Airport, killing two baggage handlers.
In the prosecutor's closing address, jurors heard that Reyat deflected questions while he was on the stand and concocted lies that were so blatant they defied common sense.
But Reyat's lawyers said the prosecution failed to prove his client had a motive to lie.
Reyat testified that Talwinder Singh Parmar, a leader of a banned Sikh separatist group, asked him to collect bomb-making material but that he didn't know what the explosive would be used for and didn't ask any questions.
He eventually testified that Parmar wanted the bomb to blow up something heavy in India. Reyat also said that when he heard about the deaths of the people killed in the bombings, he didn't think his involvement in collecting parts for explosives had anything to do with the disasters.
The bodies of 131 victims were recovered by the Irish rescue services about 120 miles south of Cork and were brought ashore at Bantry, where a plaque -- donated by the Indian government -- now marks the kindness and compassion of local residents to the families of the victims of Air India Flight 182, many of whom who arrived to collect their loved ones' remains.