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Air India bombing convict granted statutory release from B.C. prison

Inderjit Singh Reyat, the only man ever convicted in the Air India bombings of 1985, waits outside B.C. Supreme Court on Sept. 10, 2010.


Inderjit Singh Reyat, who in 1991 became the only person ever convicted in the Air India bombing, is being released from prison in British Columbia after serving five years for perjury.

Patrick Storey, Pacific regional manager of the Parole Board of Canada, said Mr. Reyat has reached his statutory release date and must be let go.

"A statutory release is not a discretionary release. It's an automatic release mandated by law," he said.

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Mr. Reyat was convicted of perjury in 2010 for lying to the court in 2003 during the trial of Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, who were acquitted in the terrorist attack on Air India Flight 182 that killed all 329 people aboard.

In 1991, Mr. Reyat was convicted of manslaughter in the deaths of two baggage handlers who were killed at Tokyo's Narita Airport when a suitcase bomb destined for the Air India flight blew up. He served 10 years for that crime. He also got five years for another manslaughter charge in the Air India bombing.

Mr. Reyat got nine years for perjury, the longest such sentence ever given in Canada, although he was given credit for time served awaiting trial. His sentence began on Jan. 7, 2011.

"After getting credit for time served, his sentence is seven years, seven months," Mr. Storey said. "So his statutory release date is Jan. 27, 2016, and he reaches the end of his sentence on Aug. 6, 2018. … [Wednesday] is the two-thirds mark in his sentence."

Mr. Storey said the parole board had no option but to allow the release, and a hearing was not held.

"The parole board's only responsibility in a case like this is to impose special conditions," he said.

Mr. Storey said the board imposed eight conditions, including one that is seldom used, restricting where Mr. Reyat can live.

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"He's required to reside at a community correctional centre or a community residential facility, or other residential facility approved by the Correctional Service of Canada," he said. "So in other words he can't go home, he has to go to a halfway house."

Mr. Storey said the residential requirement "is the most restrictive condition" the board can apply.

Mr. Reyat also cannot associate with anyone involved in criminal activity, or who has extremist or political views; he cannot participate in political activities or have extremist propaganda, and he cannot have any contact with any family members of the Air India victims.

He is also forbidden to possess components that could be used to build an explosive device.

Mr. Reyat is required to report to his parole supervisor any friendships or other associations he has with men, and he must consult a mental health professional, which Mr. Storey said will be arranged by a parole supervisor and will "address violence, empathy and cognitive distortions."

Mr. Storey said the conditions will apply until the end of Mr. Reyat's sentence in 2018.

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"Because he's on statutory release he's still under sentence, so if for any reason he breaches one of these conditions, or if the parole officer becomes concerned that he may pose a risk to the community, he can be immediately suspended and returned to custody," he said.

In sentencing Mr. Reyat for perjury in 2010, Justice Mack McEwan said Mr. Reyat had played "a significant role" in the Air India bombing, which he described as "a heinous, heinous crime."

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