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Accused offered deal to reveal more

india Updated: Jan 05, 2008 12:12 IST
Inderjit Sigh Reyat

Inderjit Singh Reyat, the only person jailed in the 1985 Air India bombing case and due for release on February 9, has reportedly been offered another "deal" by investigators to reveal those behind the plot.

Two plot suspects - Ripduman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri - were acquitted in March 2005.

And the alleged plot mastermind, Talwinder Singh Parmar, who had fled to India, was killed in a shootout with Punjab Police in 1992.

Under his first controversial deal with investigators and prosecutors in 2003, Reyat pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of 329 people on board Air India flight 182 in June 1985, in exchange for a lighter jail sentence of five years. Reyat admitted to gathering the material for others to make the bomb that blew off the Kanishka flight, but did not admit to making the bomb or knowing who did.

Before this five-year jail term, he had spent 10 years, from 1991 to 2001, in jail for pleading guilty to his role in making the bomb that killed two baggage handlers at Tokyo's Narita airport, just 50 minutes before Kanishka was blown off on June 23, 1985. But even as his five-year jail term ends February 9, Reyat still faces perjury charges on 27 counts of lying during the trial of Malik and Bagri and thus faces another jail term.

In view of these charges, investigators and prosecutors have reportedly offered him another deal if he can help further the investigation into the bombing.

Quoting a source, the Globe and Mail said: "Reyat has been told that he would receive a sentence in the range of two to five years in exchange for valuable information about others who were involved in the deadly scheme."

But Reyat is said to be reluctant to accept the deal.

"They want him to tell them what they want to hear. According to my understanding, he said that is not what happened," the newspaper quoted the source as saying.

Reyat faces a charge of perjury for testifying in court in 2003 that he did not know or recall details of the alleged conspiracy to blow up the airplane, and may be required to apply for bail, the paper said.

Called "an unmitigated liar" by the Air India trial judge, Reyat has, as per an indictment filed in February 2006, 27 instances listed against him when he allegedly lied while testifying at the trial of Malik and Bagri.

India-born Reyat moved to Canada from Britain in the mid-1970s and met Parmar who later allegedly plotted the Air India bombing.

Parmar used Reyat to assemble and test the bombs aimed at Air India to revenge the 1984 Indian Army action at the Golden Temple.

Reyat was arrested after the Air India bombing with explosives and charged. In 1986, he went back to Britain to avoid harassment. But he was deported back to Canada in 1989 when Japanese investigators found a Sanyo tuner used in the bomb that killed two baggage handlers. The tuner's serial number was traced to a shop in the town of Duncan where it was bought on Reyat's credit card.