VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - The only man convicted in connection with Air India bombings of 1985 will be sentenced in January for perjury in a 2003 trial of alleged co-conspirators, a Canadian court heard Thursday.
Inderjit Singh Reyat could face up to 14 more years in jail for lying during the trial of Ajiab Singh Bagri and Ripudaman Singh Malik. Both were acquitted of charges surrounding the bombings, which were designed to down two Air India planes.
The bombings killed 331 people in the deadliest incident of its kind before the 9/11 attacks.
One of the two bombs destroyed Air India Flight 182 off Ireland’s Atlantic coast on June 23, 1985, killing 329 passengers and crew. A second exploded as the suitcase that contained it was being transferred to an Air India flight at Tokyo’s Narita airport. Two baggage handlers died.
Reyat pleaded guilty to helping to make the bombs and was jailed for that and for his role in the Narita attack.
He was convicted of perjury for testimony at the second trial, where he denied knowing who else was involved or why he had been asked to help.
“In terrorism cases ... the need for truth is of the highest possible significance,” said Justice Mark McEwan of the British Columbia Supreme Court.
Canadian and Indian investigators allege the bombing was conducted by Sikh extremists living in Western Canada as an act of revenge for India’s deadly storming of Sikhism’s Golden Temple in Amritsar in 1984.
Prosecutor Len Doust asked McEwan to hand down something close to the maximum sentence, noting prison evaluations that said Reyat neither took responsibility for his role in the bombing, nor showed remorse.
Reyat’s lawyer, Ian Donaldson, said Reyat had been a model prisoner who deserved a modest sentence.
Writing by Janet Guttsman; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson