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Kanishka: Canada officials want Reyat's prison term extended
December 15, 2005 14:21 IST
Last Updated: December 15, 2005 18:03 IST
Canada's corrections officials have applied to keep Inderjit Singh Reyat, the only person convicted for his role in the Air India bombing disaster that killed 329 people, in jail beyond his statutory release date next June.
Reyat pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the Kanishka bombing case and was sentenced in February 2003 to five years in jail. He is already eligible for day parole, but has not yet applied for it.
The former Duncan electrician, presently serving a sentence in an Ontario jail, was charged with conspiracy and murder along with millionaire businessman Ripudaman Singh Malik and millworker Ajaib Singh Bagri, in the worst case of mass murder in Canada's history. The other two were, however, acquitted in March.
He has been informed that the Corrections Service of Canada has recommended to the National Parole Board that he be detained beyond the two-thirds point of his sentence that most offenders serve, Canadian daily 'Vancouver Sun' said.
That means a hearing must be scheduled within the next three months so parole-board adjudicators can decide whether to release Reyat or hold him longer. His full sentence ends in February 2008.
The Corrections Service of Canada is part of the country's criminal justice system and contributes to the protection of society by actively encouraging and assisting offenders to become law abiding citizens.
National Parole Board representative John Vandoremalen said he could not confirm anything regarding Reyat's case, due to privacy laws. "That is a decision the board has to make," he said from, Ottawa.
Vandoremalen told the paper that in such cases, the criterion is simply that "there are reasons to believe the individual might cause serious harm or the death of someone" before the expiration of their full sentence.
Such applications are relatively rare, although the provision was used in an earlier case against Reyat.
Reyat was also found guilty of manslaughter in 1991 for building another bomb that exploded at Tokyo's Narita airport on the same day as the Air India bombing.
He received a 10-year sentence for the Narita blast, which killed two baggage handlers. When he applied for statutory release in late 1997, the parole board ruled that he should remain behind bars because "there is a likelihood the offender will commit an offence causing serious harm prior to the end of his sentence."
Reyat's lawyer at the time, Kuldip Chaggar, called the move by federal corrections officials "political," saying it was to put pressure on Reyat to co-operate in the Air India probe.
Despite Reyat's guilty plea in the Air India case, he did not provide evidence to implicate Malik and Bagri – both of whom were acquitted March, 2004.
The Air India trial judge called Reyat "an unmitigated liar" for his sketchy, evasive testimony about who was involved in the terrorist plot that killed 329.
Just last week, a British Columbia Law Society hearing was told that Reyat entered into negotiations with the Crown in early 2002 to testify against both men in exchange for the charges against him being dropped. He changed his mind a month later.