THE B.C. Appeal Court has rejected convicted bombmaker Inderjit Singh Reyat’s plea to cut his nine-year prison term that he received in January 2011 for lying 19 times during his Air India testimony to six or seven years.
The court said that the offence was grave. The judges ruled that the trial judge did not err in finding denunciation was a key factor in sentencing.
The judges noted: “Perjury is always a serious offence, and even in cases lacking the massive wrong at the heart of the trial at which this perjured evidence was given, courts have imposed sentences of significant incarceration.”
They added that they “see no error in the judge’s placement of this offence on the spectrum of perjury cases. Although Mr. Reyat is critical of the judge for observing that it was impossible to say what difference the evidence would have made had it been tendered, and in failing to give significant weight to the fact that, in the questions put to Mr. Reyat, the Crown did not seem to be directed to dealings of Mr. Reyat with Mr. Malik and Mr. Bagri, [we] do not consider the judge erred as submitted. The perjured testimony went to central events. Mr. Reyat was involved with the scheme to bomb Air India, was asked by Mr. Parmar to build a bomb, and met Mr. X in relation to this request. It would be speculative to say his evidence would have ended there. By his false denials of recollection, Mr. Reyat foreclosed a proper and relevant line of questioning.”
Last November, Reyat’s lawyer Ian Donaldson told the court that Reyat was remorseful about the Air India bombing deaths and didn’t gain anything by lying during testimony against his co-accused.
In 1991, Reyat was sentenced to 10 years in prison for manslaughter in connection with the bombing at Japan’s Narita airport in June of 1985 that killed two baggage handlers. In February of 2003 he pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the June 1985 Air India bombing after having been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder in 2001. He was charged with perjury in February 2006 while still in jail. He was out on bail from July 2008 until his conviction in September 2010.
Ripudaman Singh Malik of Vancouver and Ajaib Singh Bagri of Kamloops were acquitted in the Air India trial.
The Supreme Court of Canada rejected Reyat’s request last January for a hearing on his appeal against his perjury conviction in the Air India Bombing Trial. The court gave no reasons for its decision. Reyat had filed a notice of appeal to the B.C. Court of Appeal after he was sentenced on January 7, 2011. In October 2012, he appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Donaldson told the court last November that Reyat didn’t concoct a false story to get someone exonerated. He also said that Reyat had been of “excellent, indeed impeccable, behaviour” in custody.
But Justice Mary Saunders said that Reyat had rejected one of the values of Canadian society – the administration of the justice system – by refusing to say what he knew when questioned at the Air India trial.
She said: “In a peculiar way, it is very, very bad to have somebody testify and give a completely false account.
“There is something almost inherently more offensive to have somebody sit there and say, ‘I’m not going to tell you, I don’t remember,’ coming up with little lies and prevarications that completely eliminates the potential of finding out what that witness would be prepared to say.”
Crown counsel Len Doust argued that the nine-year sentence was appropriate.
Full judgement at: