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The sentence of Inderjit Singh Reyat

It was deemed the worst act of terrorism in Canadian history: 331 people were killed in two decisive and deliberate explosions — one in a Japanese airport, another aboard Air India flight 182 in 1985. For the families of the victims, most of them Canadian, this was just the beginning. Charges of investigative bungling would be followed by the more startling accusations that CSIS, Canada's security agency, intentionally initiated a coverup. For over 20 years Canadians have grappled with this unsolved crime for which no one has yet had to pay.

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It's been a long road to justice for Inderjit Singh Reyat but the verdict is absolute: guilty. The trial for the B.C. electrician charged with making the bomb that exploded in the Narita airport, has at last come to a close as reported in this CBC News feature. But this development in the ongoing Air India investigation brings little comfort to the families of the victims. Charged on two counts of manslaughter and four explosives charges, Reyat is sentenced to ten years in prison; a far shorter term than what the prosecution requested.
• While the crown argued that Reyat was remorseless, the judge showed lenience. Judge Raymond Paris said that Reyat was in fact a decent person lured into aiding a "mad enterprise." Links between the Air India bombing and the Narita airport explosion were still intangible and clouded by rumour. Still, many maintained that the two were part of a larger retaliatory terrorist attack against the Indian government.

• The prosecution, for example, argued throughout the trial that the two suitcase bombs were elements in a larger scheme. They argued that the Narita suitcase bomb was meant to explode aboard Air India flight 301 en route to Bombay. The explosions of the two Air India aircraft were purportedly intended to strike at the heart of the Indian government in retribution for the Golden Temple attacks. A flight delay, however, foiled this alleged plan.

• Investigators struggled to bring Inderjit Singh Reyat to justice. Long a suspect in the Air India case, Reyat was arrested with Talwinder Singh Parmar in 1985 on weapons, explosives and conspiracy charges. A lack of evidence prevented that trial from proceeding and Reyat paid a small fine for the weapons' offences and then moved to England. In February 1988 Reyat was arrested and charged with making the Narita airport bomb.

• With time, investigators pieced together an extensive mass of evidence and Reyat was extradited to Canada on Dec. 13, 1989. His trial for his involvement in the Narita bombing began on Sept. 17, 1990, and lasted eight months.

• Prosecutors presented an extensive collection of evidence during Reyat's trial. The bomb was crafted with a section of cardboard imprinted with the letter 'M'. This cardboard packaging was unique to a discontinued Sanyo tuner available only in Duncan, B.C., where Reyat lived. The bomb was further cut apart and traces of a rare adhesive, a Micronta car clock and a 12-volt battery were found. Evidence showed that Reyat purchased these items in 1985.

• Over the course of the trial, approximately 1600 pieces of forensic evidence were presented. Approximately one-third of the RCMP interrogations were ruled inadmissible since the Mounties had embellished the amount of evidence they had in order to induce a confession. Reyat was convicted of manslaughter for the death of the two Japanese baggage handlers Koda Ideharu and Asano Hideo.

• In June 2001 Reyat was charged with the Air India deaths and on Feb. 10, 2003, he pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: June 10, 1991
Guest(s): Mark Hilford
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Ian Hanomansing
Duration: 2:09

Last updated: January 24, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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