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Montreal man accused of being trained Sikh assassin closer to deportation
Jim Bronskill
Canadian Press

OTTAWA (CP) - An alleged Sikh terrorist accused of plotting to kill senior Indian officials is on the verge of being deported following rejection of his claim he'll be tortured if returned home.

The Federal Court of Canada refused to put Bachan Singh Sogi's removal order on hold after he failed to persuade Justice Pierre Blais he would be treated inhumanely in India. Sogi's lawyer, Mai Nguyen, said her client now hopes Immigration Minister Monte Solberg will agree to let Sogi stay in Canada while the United Nations Committee Against Torture studies his file.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service says there are reasonable grounds to believe Sogi, 45, is actually Gurnam Singh, alias Piare Singh, a member of the Sikh extremist organization Babbar Khalsa International.

The late Talwinder Singh Parmar, a key suspect in the 1985 Air India bombing, was a prominent Babbar Khalsa leader in British Columbia.

The group aims to establish an independent Sikh state called Khalistan in the area that is presently the Indian state of Punjab.

CSIS says Singh arrived in Toronto on May 8, 2001, and claimed refugee status under the name Bachan Singh Sogi, later moving to Montreal.

The spy service contends Sogi is highly trained in the use of sophisticated weapons and explosive devices.

It alleges he intended to assassinate Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, his son Sukhbir Singh Badal, and former Punjab Chief of Police K.P.S. Gill.

Sogi, arrested in August 2002, denies the accusations.

The Immigration and Refugee Board relied on confidential information in concluding he should be removed from Canada.

Sogi, however, has fought to remain in the country.

A 2003 assessment by the Immigration Department concluded Sogi would be at risk of torture if sent home.

But Sogi's case continued to wind through the system.

In May, a delegate for the Immigration minister said that after considering all facets of the case, Sogi "constitutes a danger to the security of Canada" and does not face a risk of torture.

The assessment noted Babbar Khalsa militants had been arrested in the last year or so.

"I have seen nothing persuasive in the evidence that even those active militants who have been arrested have been subjected to harsh treatment," says the assessment, quoted in Blais' ruling.

"There is nothing convincing in the evidence that would lead me to conclude that Mr. Sogi would be subjected to torture or a risk to his life or cruel and unusual treatment or punishment if he were to be arrested because of his membership (in the Babbar Khalsa)."

Sogi asked the Federal Court to review the department's decision.

Blais rejected the application in a decision handed down last Friday.

© The Canadian Press 2006

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