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Air India bombing convict faces fresh trial

world Updated: Mar 03, 2010 10:54 IST

Inderjit Singh Reyat, the only person jailed in the killing of 329 passengers in the Air India bombing of 1985 and released last year, is set to face another trial on perjury charges in the case.

The jury for his trial will be picked up in Vancouver on Wednesday.

The Air India Kanishka flight 182 from Montreal to Delhi was blown off mid-air near the Irish coast June 23, 1985, by a bomb planted by Khalistani elements to avenge the Indian Army action at the Golden Temple in Amritsar to flush out heavily armed Sikh extremists.

All 329 passengers, mostly Indian Canadians, were killed, making it the worst aviation attack in history till 9/11 happened. Another bomb, meant for another Air India flight, also went off at Tokyo airport the same day, killing two baggage handlers.

Sikh militants had planted both the bombs at Vancouver airport in two unaccompanied suitcases which were transferred to the connecting Air India flight and Tokyo-bound flight at Toronto airport. Reyat admitted to testing the bomb that blew off at Tokyo airport for which he got 10 years in jail in 1991.

After this, he was given another five years in jail for his role in the Kanishka bombing.

It was while in jail that he lied while testifying during the trial of Air India suspects - Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri - in 2003. During his testimony, Reyat is said to have lied 27 times, leading to acquittal of Malik and Bagri.

If convicted, he faces a maximum of 14 years in jail.

The trial is set to open old wounds for the families of the victims who say they have been let down by the Canadian justice system.

The Air India trial which ended in acquittal of the suspects in 2005 cost Canada more than $130 million. It remains the costliest trial in Canadian legal history.