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Bomb maker appeals Air India perjury conviction

Inderjit Singh Reyat (centre) was last month sentenced to serve an additional seven years and seven months in prison, in addition to recent time in custody and the previous 10- and five-year sentences he served in full in connection with the Air India bombings. - File
Inderjit Singh Reyat (centre) was last month sentenced to serve an additional seven years and seven months in prison, in addition to recent time in custody and the previous 10- and five-year sentences he served in full in connection with the Air India bombings.
— image credit: File

Inderjit Singh Reyat is appealing his conviction and nine-year sentence for perjury in the Air India bombing trial that ended with the acquittal of his two alleged co-conspirators.

He was the only person ever convicted and jailed in Canada in connection with the 1985 bombings that killed 329 passengers on Air India flight 182 over the Atlantic Ocean and two baggage handlers at a Tokyo airport.

Reyat, the admitted bomb maker, was supposed to testify for the Crown at the 2005 trial of Ripudaman Singh Malik, the millionaire founder of the Surrey Khalsa School and the Surrey-based Khalsa Credit Union, and co-accused Ajaib Singh Bagri, a sawmill worker from Kamloops.

But after 347 days in court and $130 million spent, the Air India trial concluded with with insufficient evidence to convict the two men.

Reyat was found to have lied 19 times under oath in the trial in an attempt to hide his knowledge of the conspiracy.

He had already served 10 years for manslaughter in the deaths of the Tokyo baggage handlers and a further five years for manslaughter and aiding in the construction of a bomb in the flight 182 bombing.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Mark McEwan said Reyat's testimony "imparted nothing of assistance" and the effect of his perjury on the outcome of the Air India trial is "incalculable."

Because of the lack of certainty of what might have happened had he testified truthfully, the judge said, he could not hand down the maximum 14-year sentence for perjury.

Reyat made a statement of regret at his sentencing.

"No words in any language can ever bring closure to those who have lost loved ones as a result of the Air India and Narita tragedies," he said.

Justice McEwan took a dim view of Reyat's words.

"While he refuses to speak or to tell the truth about what he knows, his expressions of remorse and empathy ring hollow, indeed."

Reyat got credit for time served in custody, reducing his sentence to seven years and seven months.

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