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Key witness in Kanishka bombing trial testifies

September 11, 2003 02:39 IST

Amidst tight security, Inderjit Singh Reyat, a key accused-turned-witness in the Kanishka bombing case, on Wednesday testified in a Vancouver court.

In February 2003, Reyat had pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to five years in prison.

He took the stand for the first time in the trial of his two alleged co-conspirators Ajaib Singh Bagri and Ripudaman Singh Malik. He admitted knowing both as members of the Sikh community in Vancouver but otherwise hardly glanced in their direction.

Reyat said he was approached by Talwinder Singh Parmar, head of the Sikh separatist group Babbar Khalsa, in early 1985 about making an explosive device to be used in India. He said Parmar had paid a visit to his home in Duncan, on Vancouver Island, in June 1985.

According to documents available with the court, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police allegedly watched Reyat and Parmar testing explosives in forests 18 days before the Air-India bombing.

Prior to pleading guilty in February, Reyat had served a 10-year sentence for his 1991 conviction in the Narita airport bombing case, in which two baggage handlers were killed by explosives packed in a bag.

In a statement entered with his guilty plea, Reyat said he had acquired bomb-making materials he believed would be taken to India. He denied knowing the bombs would be used on Air-India Flight 182 or who had put them on the plane.

After Reyat pleaded guilty, Malik and Bagri elected to be tried by a lone judge rather than by a jury as originally planned.

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