Monday, 20 September 2010

Air India + 25 years - a conviction

More than 25 years after the deadliest ever terrorist attack on a single aircraft, a Canadian Sikh who helped make the bomb has been convicted of perjury. On June 23, 1985, an Air India Jumbo jet flying from Montreal to London exploded off the coast of Ireland, killing all 329 people on board.

In 2003, Inderjit Singh Reyat, who had already been gaoled for his role in another bombing at Tokyo’s Narita airport, was sentenced to five years in prison for manslaughter in connection with the Air India attack. It was widely believed that he had been given a light sentence in return for promising to testify against two other suspects.

At their trial in 2005, though, he said he could not remember anything about them, and they were acquitted. The bombings were believed to be in retaliation for the storming of the Golden Temple, the Sikhs' holiest shrine, by Indian troops in 1984. Reyat will be sentenced at a later date.

The Canadian security services were heavily criticised for a "cascading series of errors" that led up to the bombing. It was claimed that warnings were ignored, unauthorised people were allowed to wander freely on the aircraft, and that a sniffer dog had arrived too late to search it. For more on the attack, see A Disastrous History of the World.

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