Inderjit Singh Reyat, Air India bomb-maker, gets out 30 years later

His bombs killed 331 people. But still no remorse.

By Terry Milewski, CBC News

Inderjit Singh Reyat, seen in 2010, still supports political-based violence, the parole board said, and has only recently shown “partial” acceptance of responsibility in connection with the the Air India bombings of 1985. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Terry Milewski
Senior Correspondent

Terry Milewski has worked in fifty countries during 38 years with the CBC. He was the CBC’s first Middle East Bureau Chief, spent eight years in Washington during the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations and was based in Vancouver for fourteen years. He now covers politics as Senior Correspondent in Ottawa.

In the mafia, it’s called omerta — the code of silence. Thirty years on, that code means still more bitter medicine for the Air India families.

Once again, the bomb-maker is getting out and, once again, he is keeping his mouth shut, offering just enough tactical repentance to ensure his release — and no more.

He is Inderjit Singh Reyat, convicted three times but still the only man convicted at all in Canada’s worst-ever mass murder. Until Sept. 11, the bombing of Air India on June 23, 1985, was the deadliest terrorist attack anywhere, ever.

A mechanic from Punjab, living on Vancouver Island, Reyat bought the dynamite, the detonators and the batteries that took the lives of 329 passengers on Air India’s Flight 182, which left from Toronto, stopped in Montreal and exploded over the coast of Ireland on its way to Heathrow Airport in London.

A second bomb blew up nearly simultaneously, killing two Japanese baggage handlers as they transferred it to another Air India flight leaving Narita International Airport in Tokyo. Both bombs originated in Vancouver. The passengers who checked them in never boarded. The plan was to produce two spectacular massacres, one on each side of the globe.

In total, 331 innocents died that day. Most were Canadians. Dozens were children. Whole families were wiped out.

Perjury at trial led to acquittals  

Reyat, a member of an extremist group fighting for a Sikh homeland, was first convicted for building the Narita bomb. Then, at the Air India trial in Vancouver, he was jointly accused with two other Sikh fundamentalists for mass murder on Flight 182.

Reyat refused to tell what he knew, but cut a deal and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. The other two, Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, were acquitted.

The wreckage from Air India 182, reassembled in a hangar, is seen from a trial exhibit. (RCMP trial exhibit)image004 (1)

Reyat’s silence, though, cost him a third conviction, this time for perjury. He had told bare-faced lies in court to protect his co-conspirators. After serving two-thirds of his sentence, the National Parole Board was bound to release him — statutory release is, after all, statutory — but it did so with evident unease.

 

Reyat, after all, is not just the only man to serve time for this atrocity, but he’s also, by the board’s account, the main reason why nobody else did.

“As a result of your committing perjury, the co-accused were not convicted,” the board said flatly in its decision.

That sums it up. Reyat knows who else was involved, but refuses to give them up and that’s why they have not paid for their crimes. The parole board seems unconvinced that Reyat regrets any of this, even now.

Citing a psychologist’s report written in 2013, the decision says the report found that he lacks “true empathy and remorse” for the victims of the bombings.

Is it so bad that he remains a threat, even today? The board offers little comfort on that score, either. It says that Reyat’s association with the group that blew up Air India was “inactive while incarcerated,” but that his “affiliation has not been terminated.”

So not much has changed. His affiliation seems as firm as it was in 2003, when he wrapped up his trial testimony by bowing, his hands together in salute, to his two co-accused.

Inderjit Singh Reyat, left, and Talwinder Singh Parmar are shown at the courthouse in Duncan, B.C., on Nov. 8, 1985. (Chuck Stoody/Canadian Press)

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That testimony was, essentially, a pack of lies. Reyat insisted, for example, that he never knew the name of “Mr. X,” the man from Toronto who stayed in his home for a week, with Reyat’s wife and children, while they built the bombs.

Prosecutor Len Doust was incredulous and asked Reyat, “Did you have his phone number?” Reyat said yes. Well, then, Doust asked, “If you called him, who were you going to ask for?”

Reyat just mumbled, He had no answer. But Justice Ian Bruce Josephson didn’t mince words in his verdict.

“Much of his evidence was improbable in the extreme and entirely inconsistent with common sense,” Josephson said.

“When caught in obvious and numerous irrationalities, he would seek refuge in memory loss … his evidence was patently and pathetically fabricated in an attempt to minimize his involvement in his crime to an extreme degree, while refusing to reveal relevant information he clearly possesses.”

And that, for Josephson, made Reyat’s claims of remorse fraudulent.

“His hollow expression of remorse must have been a bitter pill for the families of the victims. If he harboured even the slightest degree of genuine remorse, he would have been more forthcoming.”

Released to halfway house  

Now, after serving three prison terms, a remorseless Reyat is to be released to a halfway house under strict conditions. Explaining those conditions, the parole board addressed him directly, emphasizing that “you have maintained the lies you told in court as recently as mid-2013.”

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Wreckage of Air India is shown underwater from a trial exhibit. (RCMP trial exhibit)

The board goes on to acknowledge Reyat’s belated acceptance of a small measure of responsibility as the time for his release grew near.

“You have indicated that you now recognize that your deception while testifying demonstrates your support for political-based violence. Your shift to accepting this responsibility is only partial and relatively recent.”

Indeed. And don’t expect Reyat to stop maintaining his lies now. As we approach the 31st anniversary of the bombing, the code of omerta endures and the Air India coverup continues.

 

Indo-Canadian woman charged for pretending to be nurse, giving Botox injections

Shiva Ashkani, 30, of Brampton, was arrested on August 23 and charged with two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

By  Riannon Westall

Toronto police have charged a woman for allegedly fraudulently portraying herself as a nurse and giving Botox injections.

According to police, the woman used Kijiji on July 7 and possibly other websites in the GTA to attract clients.

She allegedly met the clients at their home, business or a hotel and was paid thousands of dollars in cash for the service.

Most recently, police say she was providing injection services in a business in the Kipling Ave. and Queensway area.

Police say it’s not clear if the injected substances were Botox or if the medication was stored safely.

Two victims have sustained adverse reactions and possible long-term damaging effects from the procedure.

Shiva Ashkani, 30, of Brampton, was arrested on August 23 and charged with two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

She appeared in court on August 24.

Police believe there may be other victims and are urging anyone who has received this type of treatment from the accused to seek medical care.

Toronto seniors falling prey to ‘distraction theft’ cons, police warn

Police say that thieves are targeting senior citizens who speak little to no English in a series of ‘distraction thefts’

Thieves are preying on seniors, particularly those who speak little English, Toronto police are warning.

Police report four “distraction thefts” with similar tactics this month alone, between Aug. 17 to 21.

Each time, police say, a woman approaches a senior citizen and asks for directions. The woman distracts her victims by giving them worthless jewelry while stealing expensive jewelry, such as rings and necklaces. Before the victims realize their jewelry is missing, the fraud artist is driven away by a male suspect.

Police are urging the public to be on their guard against these ploys and report any suspicious behaviour to police.

To help alert the community, Crime Stoppers has released a series of YouTube videos in English, Portuguese, and Italian.

Police believe there may be other victims.

Crime Stoppers’ reenactment of a series of ‘distraction thefts’ targeting seniors in the GTA. Videos have been produced in English, Portuguese and Italian.

This isn’t the first time a string of distraction thefts have hit Toronto. In 2014, a Scarborough widow lost irreplaceable jewelry including her wedding ring to a ‘hugging’ distraction thief.

Police also dismantled an international organized crime ring responsible for a series of distraction thefts across southern Ontario and Quebec in 2012.

Shots fired during road rage incident in Richmond

By Global News

WATCH:  Richmond RCMP are investigating an apparent case of road rage that ended with a bullet hole in a one car. Ted Chernecki explains how it all unfolded.

Reports indicate a road rage incident in Richmond may have escalated into violence Monday night.

Shortly after 8:30 p.m. Richmond RCMP responded to reports of shots fired in the area of Westminster Highway and Garden City Road.

They found a 22-year-old man from Richmond in a white, late-model, Toyota Corolla. Mounties say the man was not injured, but at least one bullet hole was found in the car.

A man was seen fleeing the scene in a dark-coloured sedan, speeding northbound on Garden City Road. Police are asking anyone who may have seen the car to contact them.

WATCH: Shots fired after road rage incident in Richmond

“At this point, we believe that the shooting was initiated by a driving altercation and it appears to have been taken to the extreme,” says Cpl. Dennis Hwang. “We are following up on a number of leads and going through surveillance footage. We are working with our law enforcement partners to see if there are connections to other recent shootings. We are extremely thankful that no one was injured.”

If you have any information on this crime, contact Cst. Perera at 604-278-1212. To leave a tip on this crime, emailRichmond_Tips@rcmp-grc.gc.ca or to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Phone Scammers Using ‘Delta Police Department’ Name to Target Residents

Delta: Police in delta are warning public about phone scams in Delta and Surrey.

Phone scammers are once again at work in Delta, but this time they’re using the ‘Delta Police Department’ name to target residents in one of two scams currently circulating.

In the first scam, the fraudsters claim to be fundraising for the “Delta Police Anti-bullying Initiative”.  The callers are using and unidentified or blocked telephone number and requesting credit card donations for the “Initiative”.  The scammers are looking to obtain the victim’s credit card info.

As a reminder to residents, while we do take part in anti-bullying programs, there is NO “Delta Police Anti-Bullying Initiative” run by the DPD and we do not solicit donations via phone or email.

The second scam is a well-documented one in which scammers call (or email) potential victims pretending to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).  The goal of these scams is to access your personal and/or banking information and put it in the hands of the scammers.

Often, the scammers add an air of legitimacy to their scam by using phone spoofing apps or programs that allow them to display callback numbers legitimately associated to the businesses they pretend to be calling from.

You can read more about the CRA scams at the Canada Revenue Agency website.

To protect yourself against scammers:

  • Never provide personal information over the phone unless you are speaking to a trusted, confirmed source;
  • Do your research: before providing any personal information or donating any money hang up and double check the information through sources you trust and have identified yourself;
  • Do not click on any links in unsolicited emails;
  • If in doubt, delete the email or hang up the phone;
  • Report attempted frauds to your local police department even if you did not lose any money: your reports can help us warn and protect others.