Air India bomber’s jury trial overSeptember 17th, 2010 - 10:19 am ICT by IANS
By Gurmukh Singh
Vancouver, Sep 17 (IANS) The crucial jury trial of Air India bomber Inderjit Singh Reyat for lying under oath during the Kanishka case ended here Thursday.
With arguments by lawyers from both sides over, the jurors have now begun deliberating the evidence against the only man convicted in the bombing of the Air India Kanishka flight 182 from Montreal to Delhi June 23, 1985, in which all 329 people on board were killed.
Blamed on Khalistani extremists seeking revenge for the 1984 army action at the Golden Temple to flush militants, the bombing was the worst aviation attack till 9/11 happened. Another bomb planted by the militants had exploded at Tokyo airport the same day, killing two baggage handlers.
After his arrest, 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.
While in jail that he had agreed to testify during the trial of Air India suspects - Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri - in 2003. But during his testimony, Reyat is said to have lied 27 times to cover up Malik and Bagri, leading to their acquittal.
Earlier in the week, prosecutor Len Doust told the jurors that Reyat lied despite taking oath in order to save his co-conspirators.
“He didn’t tell us the truth. He has an interest in protecting others who were involved…he wanted to protect himself from retribution by the people who committed this horrendous crime,” the prosecution lawyer said.
The Canadian government had spent more than $130 million on the Air India trial which ended in 2005 with the acquittal of the two main suspects.
But 20 officers are still working on the Air India file to find clues to nail the guilty.
The jury comprises nine women and three men. Each juror has to prove that Reyat lied in one of 19 cases cited by the prosecution to face conviction.
If convicted, Reyat faces another 14 years in jail.
(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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