The mother and uncle of a young British Columbia woman believed murdered in a so-called "honour" killing went to India to threaten her secret, lower-caste husband and his family with death, the Crown said Tuesday. Almost 14 years after 25-year-old Jaswinder (Jassi) Sidhu was found in a canal, stabbed to death, her mother, Malkit Kaur Sidhu, and uncle, Surjit Singh Badesha, face conspiracy and murder charges in India.
In final arguments at the extradition hearing for the pair, the lawyer for the federal Attorney General Deborah Strachan said the young woman's family vehemently opposed her marriage to a poor rickshaw driver – a marriage she had kept secret for almost a year.
Once they found out, Jassi Sidhu was essentially under surveillance by her family, Strachan said.
The court heard she was confronted, assaulted and pressured to end the relationship. Her bank account was cut off and she was threatened repeatedly.
When that didn't work, Strachan said her mother and uncle went to India themselves to threaten the new husband, Sukhwinder (Mithu) Sidhu.
"The evidence from the record of the case is that Mr. Badesha and Ms. Sidhu threatened Mithu on multiple occasions, telling him he would be killed because Jassi had married him against their wishes," Strachan told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Gregory Fitch, who must decide whether the pair should be sent to India to face trial.
"They told him they were willing to spend any amount of money to have him killed. Ms. Sidhu told Mithu that she would make him disappear and that she would eliminate his family.
"That was not an empty threat because then there is evidence that Mr. Badesha and Ms. Sidhu threatened Mithu's mother... and on separate occasions threatened to kill Mithu and the rest of her children."
The elderly Sidhu also telephoned Mithu's mother on at least three occasions and made similar threats, the Crown said.
Jassi and Mithu were attacked as they rode on a scooter on June 8, 2000. He survived, but her body was found several days later.
Michael Klein, Badesha's lawyer, questions the identification of the uncle in the case.
Klein told the court the passage of time and intense media coverage have tainted witnesses who have pointed the finger at his client for involvement in the murder.
That identification includes testimony from an RCMP officer and a former tenant of Badesha's, but Klein said they are not certain enough to extradite the man.
David Crossin, the lawyer for Jassi's mother, said there simply is not enough evidence against her to send her to face trial in India.
But Strachan said the evidence shows two people who acted as a team in conspiring to kill Jassi Sidhu.
"I concede there is some evidence that Jassi loved her mother and that her mother loved her," Strachan said.
"But there is also powerful evidence, including the comment made by Mrs. Sidhu to Jassi that she wished she had aborted her, and that was in the period after the discovery of the secret marriage."
As the accusation echoed through a near-empty courtroom, the grey-haired woman sobbed in a jail cell where she appeared via videolink.