VANCOUVER - Inderjit Singh Reyat is asking the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn a perjury conviction for his testimony at the Air India bombing trial, further prolonging a saga that began with the deaths of 329 people in the skies over the Atlantic Ocean nearly three decades ago.
Reyat, who himself pleaded guilty to manslaughter for his role in the bombing, was convicted of perjury in September 2010 and later sentenced to nine years in prison — believed to be the longest perjury sentence in Canadian history.
He was accused of lying 19 times during the 2003 trial of Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, who were acquitted of mass murder and conspiracy in the bombing of Air India Flight 182 on June 23, 1985. The bombing killed 329 people, mostly Canadian citizens, while another explosion at an airport in Tokyo killed two baggage handlers.
Reyat fought his perjury conviction at the B.C. Court of Appeal, but that case was rejected this past July. Reyat is now asking the country's highest court to hear the case.
A notice of application, filed on Sept. 27, repeats Reyat's argument that the judge made a mistake in his instructions to the jury.
Reyat's lawyer has argued the judge was wrong to tell the members of the jury they didn't have to agree on which specific lie Reyat told, as long as they each agreed that he lied during the trial.
"The necessary elements or ingredients for the offence of perjury are entirely consistent among the 19 particulars to the indictment, and there was evidence on which the jury could have found each to have been proven," the court said in its decision, dated July 19.
Perviz Madon, whose husband Sam was among the victims aboard Flight 182, said news of Reyat's application once again opens painful wounds she'd rather not think about.
"I almost didn't want to call you," she told a reporter in an interview.
"I am sick of it, but it's important that we talk about it. It was something that happened, it was horrendous, and people shouldn't forget and become complacent."
Still, Madon said she takes comfort in knowing the Supreme Court of Canada could have the final say in the case.
"That's his right to appeal, and I just hope it gets shot down like it has been shot down in the past," said Madon.
"This is enough already. He lied under oath and was sentenced and he needs to serve that."
It's not clear when the Supreme Court of Canada will decide whether it will hear the case, or if it does, when the case might proceed.
Neither Reyat's lawyer nor the B.C. prosecutor in the case could be reached for comment.
Reyat was a Crown witness at Malik's and Bagri's trial when he insisted he knew nothing about the alleged conspiracy. The judge in that case later described Reyat as an "unmitigated liar."
The testimony was part of a deal that saw Reyat plead guilty to manslaughter in the bombing of the plane and receive a controversial five-year sentence. He also served an earlier 10-year sentence for manslaughter for the deaths of two airport baggage handlers in Tokyo.
It's believed a suitcase bomb was loaded onto a plane at Vancouver International Airport, then transferred to the Air India flight, which touched down in Montreal before continuing on towards London. The bomb exploded off the coast of Ireland, killing all 329 passengers and crew.
An hour later, a bomb destined from another Air India plane exploded in Tokyo.
The Crown's theory was that British Columbia-based Sikhs hatched the plot to take revenge against government-owned Air India after the Indian army stormed the Golden Temple — Sikhism's holiest shrine — in June 1984 to oust Sikh separatists.