With black bags over their heads, mother, uncle of slain Jassi Sidhu arrive in court in India
Malkit Sidhu and Surjit Badesha, extradited this week, face charges of conspiracy to commit murder
The mother and uncle of a B.C. woman who was killed in India almost two decades ago were escorted into a Punjab court Friday with black bags covering their heads.
Malkit Sidhu and Surjit Badesha have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Jassi Sidhu, from Maple Ridge, B.C., who was found with her throat slit in the Punjab region in June 2000.
Sidhu and Badesha, both Canadian citizens, flew to India to face trial earlier this week, following a 17-year long legal battle over their extradition.
The pair were escorted to court by police and greeted by a crowd of reporters.
'[You] could only see their eyes'
"The two came there with the black cover on their face, [you] could only see their eyes," said Yadwinder Singh Toor, news editor for the website Babushahi.
Toor was at court on Friday and later spoke to Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's The Early Edition, from Ludhiana, India.
"I couldn't see what was the reaction of the duo because we were not able to see their faces," Toor said.
Sidhu and Badesha are accused of planning the murder of 25-year-old Jassi because she ignored the family's wishes and married a poor rickshaw driver.
'They do not want to reveal their faces'
Toor was not sure why the pair were wearing bags on their head but believes it has to do with protecting their identity and keeping them safe in India.
"I think this is some of the [extradition] conditions of the Canadian government that the Punjab police were following," he said.
"They do not want to reveal their faces in the media of Punjab."
CBC reached out to the Federal Department of Justice which said shielding their identity was not one of the extradition conditions.
A media spokesperson said the only assurances are that India: not seek the death penalty, provide required medical care and medications, make reasonable efforts ensure their safety, provide consular access when asked and allow Canada to attend court proceedings upon request.
For Toor, the most noteworthy part of Friday's court appearance was the absence of Jassi Sidhu's husband, Mithu Sidhu.
He was badly beaten and left for dead by the people who killed his wife.
"It's very tough for him," said Toor, who said he had spoken to Mithu Sidhu. "He said: 'I can't see these two murderers.'"
The trial in Malerkotla, Punjab, continues.
With files from The Early Edition