Air India bomber’s perjury trial stalled as jury dismissed

March 9th, 2010 - 11:24 am ICT by IANS  

Vancouver, March 9 (IANS) The perjury trial of Air India Kanishka bombing convict Inderjit Singh Reyat was postponed Monday with a Supreme Court judge here dismissing the whole jury of eight women and four men.
Reyat was the only person jailed in the killing of 329 passengers in the Air India bombing of 1985 and released last year.

Though a publication ban didn’t allow the local media to report the cause of dismissal of the jury, sources told IANS that the jury was dismissed after ‘biased’ remarks about Reyat by a woman juror.

“The other 11 jury members, mostly whites, felt that the woman juror will not unbiased in her verdict and took the matter to the Supreme Court judge who decided to dismiss the whole jury rather than remove the woman juror,” the sources told IANS.

The 12-member jury for Reyat’s perjury trial was picked up last Wednesday from among 150 people.

A new jury will now be selected to start the trial by the end of the month.

The Air India Kanishka flight 182 from Montreal to Delhi was blown off mid-air near the Irish coast June 23, 1985, by a bomb planted by Khalistani elements to avenge the army action at the Golden Temple to flush out militants.

All 329 passengers, 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.

As the trial court said, Sikh militants had planted both the bombs at Vancouver airport in two unaccompanied suitcases which were transferred to the connecting Air India flight and Tokyo-bound flight at Toronto airport.

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, leading to acquittal of Malik and Bagri by a court here in March 2005.

If convicted, he faces a maximum of 14 years in jail.

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