Terrorist Inderjit Singh Reyat was given a please bargain in a British Columbia court that will see him serve at most five years… for helping to blow up a plane and killing 329 people, the worst terrorist attack against civilians in history before 9/11.
Here’s the funny/insane part: the deal does NOT require him to testify against his co-conspirators.
Dear Lord. 329 innocent people. Five years. A local journalists helpfully pointed out that this is less than six days for every person who was blown to bits or had the pleasure of falling 30,000 into the ocean that day.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, he previously did ten years for bombing an airport in Japan. For what reason I cannot fathom, they apparently gave him “Credit” for this time served when figuring how long to give him for helping to murder 329 people. Gosh, how nice of them.
I’m not a lawnorder capital-punishment-fan lockemup kinda guy by any means, but I’m starting to wonder if we really aren’t soft on terrorists. Or maybe the Crown figured, hey, most of these people were just Indians, so who cares? Maybe they would have asked for life if the guy had had the nerve to blow up a planeload of white folks, hmmm? I could maybe understand giving the guy five years IF he was going to turn stool pigeon on the ringleaders - it would be worth it if you could nail the people who led this conspiracy - but nope, they just gave him a slap on the wrist and let him go. Five years because you feel bad he already did ten for another bombing? What the hell’s going on? The man murdered 329 people! How badly was this case bungled?
Three hundred and twenty nine. That’s your entire extended family, and the extended families of nine of your neighbours. Try to count up 329 people you know personally. I bet you have trouble coming up with that many names.
Well, while this seems like little more than a slap on the wrist, the Globe and Mail article you link to does point out the following:
If this is truly the information that the court and the prosecutors had regarding the man’s involvement, the sentence is not too surprising. Establishing someone’s intent (or otherwise) is a common factor in criminal trials, and if he truly believed that the bomb was to be used to destroy only property rather than to kill people, then it is reasonable to take this into account in determining what charges are brought and what the sentence will be.
If they find the guys who placed the bomb, and one or more of them testifies that Reyat knew what the bomb was going to be used for, the prosecution can probably refile the case (although i don’t know whether Canada has anything like a double-jeopardy law that would prevent this). You can only convict based on the evidence you have.
mhendo, I’d be willing to accept those points, but:
Inderjit’s claims that he did not know what the bomb would be used for seem irrelevant to me when he DOES admit he thought the bomb was going to be used for a terrorist attack in India. There is an element of capricious and reckless disregard for human life here.
If I make you a bomb with the understanding that you plan to use it in a terrorist attack, it’s not an excuse that you used it in a different attack than the one I was expecting.
This isn’t ONE case of manslaughter. It’s THREE HUNDRED AND TWENTY NINE CASES. In effect, Inderjit was given a total sentence of about six days in prison for each person he murdered. While I realize it is customary in most cases to have sentences run concurrently, he’s a previously convicted terrorist and is by all accounts not the slightest bit remorselful. If there was ever a case of an offender who should recieve consecutive terms, this is it.
Perhaps most importantly, why was he not required to testify at the trial of his co-conspirators?
The most damning part of the case IMHO. Now who will the Crown use as a witness if and when the co-conspirators’ cases come to court? Five years sounds like a lucky deal on a plea bargain, let alone a case where a plea bargain wasn’t made. Now, of course, the Crown can’t make another plea bargain with Reyat.
As The Smoking Man aptly put it, “You can’t play poker if you haven’t got any cards.” The Crown Court folded here.
Though laws do vary from U.S. state to U.S. state, I’m unaware of any U.S. state that doesn’t have and “escalator” clause when the crime causes death.
*) An abortion clinic is bombed at 2:00AM and a janitor is killed. The perpetrator is charged with murder even though his explicit intent was limited to the destruction of private property. (Closest parallel to the case at hand.)
*) Two men rob a gas station, one shoots and kills the cashier. Both robbers are subject to manslaughter and/or murder charges.
*) Several years ago a New Year’s Eve celebration in New Orleans turned deadly when a resident partook in the revelry by firing a pistol in the air with the intent simply to make noise. The bullet came down striking and killing a women several blocks away. He was charged in the death.
Lots more examples out there…
While i agree that anyone who makes bombs for ANY terrorist purpose is a criminal, there is surely a difference between somene who plans to blow up a bridge with no-one on it and someone who plans to blow a fully-laden airliner out of the sky. The law, if i understand it correctly, recognizes a person’s intent in determining charges and penalties.
One thing i was wondering was whether Canada has any equivalent of the “felony murder” that i see all the time on US TV shows like Law & Order. In this case, if i have it right, any death that occurs during the commission of a felony is charged as a murder, whether it was intended as part of the crime or not. Lawyers, help me out here if i have it wrong.
Well, you concede that he committed manslaughter, and then say that he received “six days in prison for each person he murdered.” But, by legal definition, if he committed manslaughter then he didn’t murder anyone - that’s why the two terms exist, in order to differentiate one type of killing from another. And, it seems to me, intent is often a key aspect in determining which of the two to charge someone with.
Also, if you look at the Globe and Mail article that you linked to, you’ll see that
He was not charged with 329 counts; only one.
Now, you can certainly make an argument that this is a pretty lenient charge given the severity of the crime, but i think it’s fairly safe to assume that the prosecutors only made the decisions that they did because they did not believe that any other course of action would be successful. Rules of evidence in a courtroom are there for a reason, and if the prosecution did not feel that it could meet its burden of proof with the evidence that it had, then it probably made the best deal that it believed possible.
And i can’t imagine that the prosecution tanked on the case; a high-profile, emotional case like this, with so many victims, is the sort that prosecutors love to win. If there was any legal way to get a longer sentence, i’m sure they would have done so.
I agree that this is an extremely troubling development. I really don’t understand why this happened.
He could have been sent to prison for life under several parts of the Criminal Code.
Criminal Code of Canada, section 77 (d):
“Every one who places or causes to be placed on board an aircraft in service anything that is likely to cause damage to the aircraft, that will render it incapable of flight or that is likely to endanger the safety of the aircraft in flight is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life.”
(Indictable Offense is the Canadian term for a felony.)
I guess it depends what or who you believe, but I would think that a reasonable man would know that constructing and giving a bomb to terrorists, intending on carrying out terrorist attacks with them, is likely to cause death. I do NOT believe a reasonable man would have thought it unlikely that these actions would kill anyone. I find the “I thought they would blow up a bridge with nobody on it!” defense laughable.
mhendo, “manslaughter” isn’t a verb. Yes, he was charged with manslaughter, and yes, that isn’t the same as a charge of murder.
No matter how you slice it, he murdered those people. I ask you to look the word up in a dictionary. The word “murder” does not just mean what the Criminal Code definition is, and I thought it was quite clear which definition I was using. and got (at the most) six days each. And the fact that he was nominally given only ONE charge does not change the fact, which you know as well as I, that he’s responsible for all 329.
To use an obvious example, the Criminal Code does not have a crime called “Rape.” If you rape someone, though, you’re still raping them, even if you’re charged with “Sexual Assault” (section 271.) I don’t think you’d tell me, about someone charged with sexual assault, “Well, he didn’t rape her, he sexual-assaulted her.”
My point was not to dick over whether we’re using the legal or dictionary definition of “murder.” The man killed 329 people and he could be out in less than two years, five at most, and the Crown’s justification for this fiasco is that it will speed things up and save money. I find it disgraceful and offensive - and, maybe more to the point, just plain sad - that someone who helped commit mass murder will serve a total of five years for it. Doesn’t that bother YOU?
Speaking as someone who’se not kept up on this specially, I’m still surprised anyone was charged with anything. Every few years I recall something about this surfacing, but every time it seemed something got screwed up and everyone almost went free.
RickJay, I absolutely concur. If the Crown could tag this guy with one manslaughter charge, there seems to be no reason on God’s green earth why they couldn’t have pinned the other 328 on him as well.
And even at 18 months a pop, if he had been sentenced to serve these unfortunately hypothetical terms consecutively (which I think would be appropriate here), then that would have been several lifetimes worth of prison.
My attitude towards the "he made a bomb, but he didn’t know that his cohorts were going to blow people up with it is…well, my attitude is unprintable. But my reasoning is that if one goes around making bombs and giving them to people, you have brought a danger into the world that shouldn’t be there. You are affirmatively responsible for the downstream consequences of that action, and you do not have the moral right, by handing off the bomb, to hand off that responsibility to another - unless the ‘another’ is a representative of a legitimate law enforcement agency. Bombs aren’t readily available; whatever bad things get done with it, the reasonable assumption is that you enabled those acts, and that they would have been prevented by your not having made the bomb in the first place.
I’m appalled that this guy will ever again walk free under the sun, let alone that he will likely do so in a couple of years.
I am frustrated beyond words on this. The law has failed us.
Reyat serves ten years for the killing of two baggage handlers in Japan and gets five years for the killing of the 329 passengers on the Air India flight 182.
The R.C.M.P. and the prosecution really fucked up on this one.
On the bright side… Reyat no longer has the protection of the bulletproof cage that was installed in the courtroom and will likely spend his remaining jail time in solitary confinement for his own protection.
He is going to have to leave the prison sometime and unless he can pull a Bin Ladenesque disappearing act I think his days on this earth are numbered.
Gosh, now we find out he’ll be punished for killing all those innocent people by being forced to go golfing. That’s pretty tough. I totally take back my OP; what terrible punishment it will be for him to have to do a quick 18 every day before retiring to his suite.
OK, let me get one thing out of the way before anything else. I agree that this guy should reasonably have expected that any bomb he made for a terrorist group would probably be used to kill people. I’m not making the argument that he’s a good guy; nor am i suggesting that he really got what he deserved in terms of punishment.
Now, to the points you raise.
Well, according to the stories that you linked to (which is the only information i have read on the case), he neither placed the bomb on the plane, nor did he cause it to be placed there. He built it - period. Again, i affirm that the building of the bomb is an awful thing, but it is not the same as placing the bomb on the plane, espeically in terms of legal definitions.
The way the paragraph is worded implies that the actual act carried out by the person needs to cause a death. The distinction that i see here is the following:
If you place a bomb on a bridge, intending to blow it up when no-one is on it, but you accidentally kill someone anyway, then that falls within the statute because the actual act (i.e. placing the bomb on the bridge) was likely to cause death.
But the actual act of building a bomb is not likely to cause death. It is the use of the bomb after it is built that determines the likelihood of death. And, from the stories you linked to, all he did was build the bomb.
Again, before people start flaming me for defending the guy, i think that what he did was unconscionable, indefensible. But the law, as we often find out to our disgust, works somewhat differently from our more generalized set of moral values. The law is, for better or worse, an instrument that deals in fairly precise definitions. All i am doing is pointing out that, given the constraints of the legal system, the prosecution probably got as much as they could.
Firstly, i never said it didn’t bother me. Please don’t attribute to me responses that i do not have.
Second, while you prefer not to “dick over whether we’re using the legal or dictionary definition of ‘murder,’” those prosecuting and trying the defendant do not have that luxury. They are, as i’ve pointed out before, constrained by legal definitions and protocols.
Third, a quick glance at the Oxford English Dictionary might convince you that manslaughter is indeed a verb as well as a noun, just like murder. Also, without recapitulating every definition of “murder” (noun and verb) given by the OED, it seemed to me on examining the entry that the dictionary definition is no more applicable to this case than the legal definition. For example, the first and most comprehensive of murder as a verb says:
This definition, like all the others that i saw, implies that a person who commits murder is the person who actually does the killing. Nowhere, in any of the definitions of murder (n. or v.) does it say that building a device that someone else uses to kill people is murder. If you’re going to apply this definition, then surely you must feel that gun and arms manufacturers are also guilty of murder whenever their products are used to kill people?
Now, of course you could say that gun/arms manufacturers are building their weapons legally, whereas this bomb was built illegally. But it would be a little difficult for you to make that argument now, given that you’ve already stated that you’re applying moral rather than legal standards to this case.
In conclusion, i think what this guy did was absolutely heinous, and i’d be quite happy to see him behind bars for many more years than he actually received. Nor do i buy his argument that he didn’t know what the bomb was to be used for - at the very least, he must have had some idea.
However, i’ll come back to the original focus of my argument - that fact that the prosecution probably did everything they could with the evidence that they had. Whether we believe his argument that he didn’t know what the bomb was to be used for is immaterial; the burden of proving his guilt lies with the prosecution, and if they couldn’t do it then they couldn’t do it.
Now, i’ll be the first to agree with Feynn and others that it looks like the RCMP and other authorities might have fucked up the investigation, although i haven’t been following the case long enough to know exactly how. I suppose all i have to say on this score is that we have to ask more from our law-enforcement people. Recently here in Baltimore, the police where whining because a suspected drug dealer was released after an illegal search of his premises. Well, if the police are not going to follow the law that they’re supposed to uphold, we shouldn’t be surprised when criminals go free. I’m not saying that anything like this happened in the case under discussion here; the point i want to make is simply that our system of law and order is only ever going to be as good as the people who uphold it.
All of you should know this is a really difficult case.
First off, half of the main suspects are already dead. Long dead of natural causes or murdered themselves. Reyat was one of three people charged with 329 counts of 1st degree murder, and conspiracy to commit murder, but the case against him was the toughest.
First off, getting him charged was a PITA, since he was extradited from Britain to be tried for the Narita airport bombings. Special permission had to be arranged to charge him before he was released last summer.
Second, with the deaths of the linking individuals, there may no longer be evidence connecting Reyat to the Air India Bomb.
Third, having Reyat accept a plea will save a fuckload of money. This THREE YEAR TRIAL will be cut in half, easy, because the case against Reyat was the weakest link. There are lots of details which aren’t public yet, but will come out in court once the trial against Baghri and Malik starts. I’m sure you’ll find, at the very least, affadavits from Reyat concerning his role, and the role of others, in the terrorist attack.
That being said, I’ve never understood the whole “Time before sentencing counts double” thing that Canadian courts do.