Only convict in deadly 1985 Air India bombing released from Canadian prison

The Boeing-747 exploded off the Cork coast, killing all 329 people on board

Air India, Bombing, Flight 182, Ahakista, Canada, Cork, Terrorism

Irish soldiers carry one of the victims of the Air India jetliner which plummeted into the Atlantic off Ireland in Cork, Ireland, on Sunday, June 23, 1985 [AP Photo/Redman]

The only person ever convicted in the 195 Air India bombing that killed 329 people off the coast of Cork has been released. Sikh-Canadian national Inderjit Singh Reyat was released by Canadian authorities yesterday, after serving more than 20 years behind bars.

On June 23rd, 1985, Air India Flight 182 was destroyed by a bomb at 31,000 feet, breaking up as it crashed into the Atlantic Ocean while flying over Irish airspace. The Boeing 747 was en route from Toronto to Mumbai, having stopped in Montreal, with a planned stop in London and Delhi.

A Canadian court convicted Reyat of making the bombs which brought down the jet, at the time one of the deadliest aviation disasters in history. He was also convicted of making the bomb that went off at Tokyo’s Narita Airport, which killed two baggage handlers and was intended to bring down another Air India flight set for Bangkok.

Inderjit Singh Reyat was convicted of making the bombs and perjuring himself on the stand [Wiki Commons]

The first bomb exploded as Air India 182 neared the coast of Ireland. Among the victims, only half of whom were recovered from the sea, were 268 Canadians, mostly of Indian origin, and 24 Indians.

In the wake of the disaster, both the Canadian and Indian aviation authorities concluded that a terrorist attack had brought down the plane, and investigations concluded that Sikh extremists were responsible. The bombing was planned in retaliation for the Indian government’s deadly storming of the Sikh Golden Temple shrine in Amritsar, which was occupied by Sikh dissidents demanding an autonomous region.

Bodies of some of the passengers killed in the bombing were brought to Cork Hospital

Reyat was working as a mechanic in western Canada at the time of the attack, and had the dynamite, batteries, and detonators in an effort to simultaneously explode the bombs while the jets were midair. The Tokyo bomb only went off while on the ground because he failed to take account of Japan’s non-observance of daylight saving’s hours.

The Sikh-Canadian, who had already served 15 years for making the bombs, was later convicted of perjury. The Canadian courts concluded he lied under oath while testifying at the trials of two other suspects, who were later acquitted due to lack of evidence. He was sentenced to nine years for lying, the longest sentence ever issued by a Canadian court for perjury.

Reyat has been ordered by parole officers to live in a halfway house until August, 2018, when his perjury sentence will expire. He is to have no contact with the families of his victims, nor to take part in any political activities. He must also undergo counselling to tackle his violent tendencies, his lack of empathy, and his cognitive distortions.

A memorial to the victims of flight 182 was built in Ahakista, Co Cork, not long after the disaster. A memorial service is held there every year on June 23rd.

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