INDERJIT Singh Reyat’s lawyer Ian Donaldson on Wednesday told the B.C. Appeal Court that Reyat’s nine-year sentence that he received in January 2011 for lying 19 times during his Air India testimony should be cut to six or seven years because he was remorseful about the Air India bombing deaths and didn’t gain anything by lying during testimony against his co-accused.
In 1991, Reyat was sentenced to 10 years in prison for manslaughter in connection with the bombing at Japan’s Narita airport in June of 1985 that killed two baggage handlers. In February of 2003 he pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the June 1985 Air India bombing after having been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder in 2001. He was charged with perjury in February 2006 while still in jail. He was out on bail from July 2008 until his conviction in September 2010.
Ripudaman Singh Malik of Vancouver and Ajaib Singh Bagri of Kamloops were acquitted in the Air India trial.
The Supreme Court of Canada rejected Reyat’s request last January for a hearing on his appeal against his perjury conviction in the Air India Bombing Trial. The court gave no reasons for its decision. Reyat had filed a notice of appeal to the B.C. Court of Appeal after he was sentenced on January 7, 2011. In October 2012, he appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Donaldson told the three-member panel of the B.C. Appeal Court that Reyat didn’t concoct a false story to get someone exonerated. He also said that Reyat had been of “excellent, indeed impeccable, behaviour” in custody.
But Justice Mary Saunders said that Reyat had rejected one of the values of Canadian society – the administration of the justice system – by refusing to say what he knew when questioned at the Air India trial.
She said: “In a peculiar way, it is very, very bad to have somebody testify and give a completely false account.
“There is something almost inherently more offensive to have somebody sit there and say, ‘I’m not going to tell you, I don’t remember,’ coming up with little lies and prevarications that completely eliminates the potential of finding out what that witness would be prepared to say.”
Crown counsel Len Doust argued that the nine-year sentence was appropriate.
The judges reserved their judgment.