Canadian jury dismissed in Air India perjury trial

Mon Mar 8, 2010 10:25pm EST
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VANCOUVER (Reuters) - A Canadian judge on Monday dismissed a jury as it was about to hear the perjury trial of Inderjit Singh Reyat, who is accused of lying in court about an Air India bomb plot 25 years ago, saying he feared the panel may have been tainted.

British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Mark McEwan ordered that a new jury be selected. He said a remark allegedly made by one juror to others on the panel may have tainted the jury as it was being selected last week.

McEwan said a juror complained to him about the remark, the details of which are subject to a publication ban.

Reyat's trial was scheduled to begin in Vancouver on Monday, but has now been delayed until March 22.

Reyat is accused of lying 27 times under oath during the murder trial of Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, who were acquitted in 2005 of the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182 in 1985 that killed 329 people.

The attack on Flight 182 is history's deadliest bombing of a commercial airliner, and is alleged by police to have been plotted by Sikh extremists living in Canada as revenge on India for its 1983 storming of Sikhism's Golden Temple.

Reyat pleaded guilty to a minor role of collecting bomb-making material and was called as a witness against Malik and Bagri. Prosecutors now allege he lied when he testified he never learned the bomb maker's name, what the target was or who else was involved in the plot.

Police have never publicly identified the bomb maker, but the judge who found Malik and Bagri not guilty of murder and conspiracy in 2005 nonetheless called Reyat an "unmitigated liar."

(Reporting Allan Dowd, Editing Chris Wilson)