No plea deal yet in Canadian Air India bomb trial

Wed Jan 30, 2008 2:46pm EST
 
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canadian prosecutors and a lawyer for the only person convicted for the 1985 Air India bombings played coy on Wednesday on whether he would plead guilty to lying about the plot in court.

Inderjit Singh Reyat had been widely expected to plead guilty to perjury on Wednesday, but instead watched via a video link as defense lawyer Ian Donaldson told a court in Vancouver that attorneys needed more time to prepare for trial.

"I'm not going down that road," Donaldson said as he deflected reporters's questions on whether the delay meant Reyat had changed his mind and a possible deal with prosecutors had fallen through.

"I've read the media reports (on a guilty plea) and I'm not going to speculate," prosecution spokesman Geoff Gaul said.

Reyat pleaded guilty in 2003 to a reduced charge of manslaughter for helping collect materials used to make the bomb that destroyed Air India Flight 182 over the Irish Sea in June 1985, killing all 329 people on board.

The attack is history's deadliest bombing of a civilian airliner and believed to be the work of Canadian-based militants who were then battling the Indian government for an independent Sikh homeland.

After pleading guilty, Reyat was called as a prosecution witness in the bombing trial of fellow Sikh separatist, Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri.

But Reyat testified he never asked the name of the bomb maker who stayed for several days at his house in Duncan, British Columbia, or what the bomb was intended for.   Continued...

 
<p>An artist's sketch shows Inderjit Singh Reyat (L) appearing in BC Supreme Court in Vancouver, British Columbia, March 27, 2006. Canadian prosecutors and a lawyer for the only person convicted for the 1985 Air India bombings played coy on Wednesday on whether he would plead guilty to lying about the plot in court. REUTERS/Felicity Don</p>