Air India bomb perjury trial starts in Canada

Thu Sep 9, 2010 4:30pm EDT
 
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VANCOUVER (Reuters) - A Canadian man's own actions will prove he lied to a court about having no knowledge of the conspiracy that led to the deadly bombing of Air India Flight 182 in 1985, prosecutors said at the start of a perjury trial on Thursday.

Inderjit Singh Reyat is accused of lying more than a dozen times during the trial of two men who were eventually found not guilty of bombing the Air India jetliner over the Atlantic Ocean, a disaster that killed 329 people.

Prosecutors told the jury in Vancouver they do not plan to call witnesses against Reyat. They will instead have the jury listen to Reyat's testimony in court in 2003 and read statements he gave before appearing as a witness.

Reyat had pleaded guilty to helping construct the bomb, and was called as a prosecution witness in the murder trial of Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajiab Singh Bagri.

On the witness stand, Reyat denied knowing why he was asked to build a bomb, what the target was, or ever asking the name of an unidentified man who spent a week in Reyat's home constructing the bomb.

The judge who found Malik and Bagri not guilty of murder and conspiracy in 2005 nonetheless called Reyat an "unmitigated liar".

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 storming of Sikhism's Golden Temple in Amritsar in 1984.

The plotters also planned to destroy an Air India flight over the Pacific Ocean at the same time, but that bomb instead exploded in Japan's Narita airport, killing two baggage handlers.

The Canadian government formally apologized in June to families of the Air India victims, saying authorities failed in their duty to disrupt the plot and prevent the tragedy.

The perjury trial is expected to run through next week. The defense has not said if it plans to call any witnesses.

(Reporting Allan Dowd, editing by Peter Galloway)

 
<p>A woman wipes her face at a 25th anniversary memorial gathering at the Air India monument in Toronto June 23, 2010. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>