VANCOUVER — A B.C. Supreme Court judge has dismissed the jury in the perjury trial of Inderjit Singh Reyat before jurors had a chance to hear any evidence.
Reyat’s trial was scheduled to begin Monday morning, but the start was delayed for several hours, though the reasons for that delay and for the jury’s dismissal are banned from publication.
Reyat testified for the Crown at the 2003 trial of two men who were eventually acquitted in the Air India bombing, but an indictment lists 27 instances in which prosecutors allege he lied.
The jury for Reyat’s trial was chosen last week and the selection process was rigorous because of the high-profile nature of the Air India case.
The jury pool consisted of about 150 people who waited several hours before eight women and four men were finally chosen.
A new jury will be chosen at a later date.
A bomb in a suitcase downed Air India Flight 182 off Ireland, killing all 329 people aboard, and another bomb killed two baggage handlers in Japan.
Eventually, two men — Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri — were charged with murder and were tried in 2003.
Reyat testified at their trial. He is accused of perjury mostly dealing with his insistence that he didn’t remember details of the bombing plot or the name of one of the men involved.
Reyat, an electrician from Duncan, B.C., was charged in February 2006, nearly a year after the acquittals.
The Crown’s theory during the trial for Malik and Bagri was that Sikh extremists in British Columbia plotted to bring down Air India planes in revenge for the actions of the Indian government.
The alleged mastermind behind the attacks, Talwinder Singh Parmar, was killed by police in India in 1992. Parmar was the leader of the Babbar Khalsa, which the Canadian government considers a terrorist organization.
In the indictment, the Crown says Reyat lied when he said he didn’t know if Parmar was the leader or played any role in Babbar Khalsa, and did not know the purpose of the organization.
The indictment also says Reyat lied when he said he didn’t know the identity of one of Parmar’s associates, known only as Mr. X, despite meeting the man on several occasions and allowing the mystery man to stay at his home.
Perjury carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison, although maximum sentences are rarely imposed.