Reyat Appeals His Perjury Conviction, Harsh Sentence

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Inderjit Singh Reyat’s lawyer Ian Donaldson argued Thursday that his client’s perjury conviction should be overturned because of an error by the trial judge in his instructions to the jury. Donaldson wants to establish which of the 19 alleged lies that the jury all agreed on since they were allowed to believe any one of them to convict Reyat as instructed by the trial judge.

By R. Paul Dhillon

VANCOUVER—The only man found guilty in connection to the An Air India bombing – even though in a statement of fact both the Crown and the Defence agreed that Inderjit Singh Reyat only gathered the parts that could be made into a bomb but that he never actually assembled a bomb and don’t know who did – is appealing his perjury conviction after he was given one of the longest sentences for lying while testifying in the Air India trial.

The perjury or lies that Reyat is accused to refers to him refusing to divulge the information that RCMP wanted him to do about who was involved in the conspiracy to bomb the plane but Reyat has said all along that he doesn’t know anything about the conspiracy and who was allegedly involved.

Reyat was found guilty because the Crown said he did know who was involved despite Reyat’s pleadings that he did not.

Since the Air India judge had already written in his verdict that Reyat lied on the stand so the jury simply went with that, acknowledging that since the Judge said Reyat was lying  then he must be lying and found him guilty. He was then given a lengthy nine year sentence.

Reyat’s lawyer wants to establish which of the 19 alleged lies that the jury all agreed on since they were allowed to believe any one of them to convict Reyat as instructed by the trial judge.

Ian Donaldson argued Thursday that his client’s perjury conviction should be overturned because of an error by the trial judge in his instructions to the jury.

Donaldson said the jury essentially had too many options to convict him, since each juror could find him guilty on one of 19 separate instances of lying. He says they should all have to agree on at least one lie.

The Crown argues case law allows this, and past cases show each juror can take a different path to a verdict, provided they all agree that verdict is unanimous.

Donaldson focused on the decision by the trial judge, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Mark McEwan, to allow the jury to reach a guilty verdict on only one of 19 particular allegations he lied.

The 12 jurors were each permitted to pick any one or more of the 19 particulars to reach a guilty verdict.

“The 12 jurors therefore had 228 potential routes to conviction, where no two jurors had to be remotely satisfied about the same thing at all,” Donaldson told a three-member panel of the B.C. Court of Appeal.

Donaldson argued that the lack of unanimity undermined the fairness of the trial process.

Madam Justice Anne McKenzie interjected that the trial judge still had to look at the evidence to see if it would be open to the jury to find that the evidence was proven.

Donaldson agreed with McKenzie but still insisted that “mischief” could arise from so many potential paths to conviction.

Reyat is also appealing that sentence, claiming that it was harsh and unfit.

Reyat, who has served more time than he was actually legally given sentences for, has been made a scapegoat for RCMP-CSIS’s incompetent police work. Reyat is also being punished for refusing to name names as the RCMP has tried to get him to do, bribing him with witness protection and money.

But Reyat has refused to budge and continues to maintain that he did not know who was actually involved in the conspiracy and doesn’t have anything to do with the people who actually placed bombs on the planes.

Reyat has said and he continues to say that he never intended to build a bomb or to bomb any planes and that at the height of the abuses by the State of India against Sikhs – he was asked and willingly helped in any way that he could for the Sikh militant cause. But that he never agreed to any terrorist plots or killing innocents – at least that’s what he specifically said in an interview more than a decade ago.

In the only interview he has given to any Canadian media – Reyat told the LINK editor R. Paul Dhillon many years ago that he did not have anything to do with the Air India bombing and he does not know who did.

Reyat was a Crown witness at the trial of Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, who were acquitted in the Air India case.

Reyat’s testimony was part of a deal that saw him plead guilty to manslaughter in the deaths of 329 people aboard Air India Flight 182 on June 23, 1985.

Reyat has been in prison since his arrest and extradition from England in 1989.

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