As they slowly marched into the room inside B.C. Supreme Court, dressed in their prison-issued grey sweatsuits, Malkit Sidhu and Surjit Badesha hardly looked the part of heartless criminals. The 63-year-old Ms. Sidhu underscored that point when she turned to the gallery and blew a kiss to an infant family member.
But it’s what she and her co-accused allegedly did to another loved one that has them facing extradition to India – they’re accused of having ordered the brutal slaying of Ms. Sidhu’s daughter, Jassi, after the young woman married a man of whom her wealthy family didn’t approve.
The elder Ms. Sidhu and Mr. Badesha – the victim’s 67-year-old uncle – made a brief court appearance Monday after being picked up late last week on Extradition Act arrest warrants. The duo appeared surprised when they entered the courtroom, as intense media interest left no empty seats.
Their case was put over until Wednesday, at which time lawyers for both parties will set a date for a bail hearing, likely to be held within two weeks.
After Monday’s appearance closed, Ms. Sidhu walked over to three family members seated in the front row and smiled. She and Mr. Badesha did not address the court.
Prosecutor Deborah Strachan said the Crown will push for Ms. Sidhu and Mr. Badesha to remain behind bars at Port Coquitlam’s North Fraser Pretrial Centre.
“They are wanted in India on charges of conspiracy to commit murder,” she said.
Ms. Strachan said the Crown will oppose Ms. Sidhu and Mr. Badesha’s release because they might commit an offence and letting them out isn’t in the public interest.
The Crown will not argue the two are flight risks, what Ms. Strachan classified as the “primary ground.”
“Generally, in order to show cause on the primary ground, you have to show that the person has no roots in the community, is not a resident, has no address, that kind of thing,” she said.
Jassi Sidhu was from the Vancouver suburb of Maple Ridge and worked as a beautician.
The 25-year-old met her eventual husband on a trip to India. Her family is said to have opposed the union because he was a rickshaw driver.
Ms. Sidhu was found with her throat slashed in an irrigation ditch in June, 2000, in the Indian state of Punjab. Her husband was seriously injured in the attack.
RCMP say Indian authorities have uncovered evidence Ms. Sidhu’s family was involved in her killing from Canada. Mounties and other government officials have travelled to India on a number of occasions to work on the case and the extradition process, though it’s unclear why it took more than a decade for arrest warrants to be issued.
The family members who were on hand for Monday’s court appearance did not speak with reporters. A lawyer representing the two accused also did not address the media.
Legal observers say the extradition battle could take several years and reach the Supreme Court of Canada, particularly since the two accused are Canadian citizens.
Seven people have been convicted in the case in India, for charges including murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy to commit murder.