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Extradition for B.C. pair accused of slaying in India to protect family's honour

Last Updated Jan 17, 2019 at 1:06 pm PDT

Jassi Sidhu and Sukhwinder Sidhu. (RCMP Handout)

VANCOUVER — The Department of Justice says two British Columbia residents accused of hiring assassins to kill a young woman and her new husband in India will be extradited to that country within days.

Malkit Kaur Sidhu and Surjit Singh Badesha are accused in India of conspiracy to commit murder for their alleged involvement in the slaying of Sidhu’s daughter and Badesha’s niece, Jaswinder “Jassi” Kaur Sidhu.

She was killed and her husband was severely beaten after Sidhu travelled to India to marry the man her family did not consider acceptable.

The victim’s mother and uncle were earlier ordered extradited to face charges and were en route to India in September 2017 when their trip was halted in Toronto when defence lawyers filed a last-minute application for a judicial review.

Last month, the B.C. Court of Appeal denied their requests for a stay of proceedings and a judicial review.

An email from the Justice Department says Badesha and Sidhu will be transferred before Jan. 25.

Sidhu and Badesha had 30 days following the December ruling to file another leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada but that period expired earlier this month, meaning Canada is in a position to “fulfil the extradition request,” says the statement from Department of Justice spokesman Ian McLeod.

Lawyers for Badesha and Sidhu went to the B.C. Court of Appeal to argue their clients weren’t given the chance to review the federal justice minister’s decision to extradite them and that they were denied access to counsel.

The court ruled unanimously that while the minister’s conduct did amount to an abuse of process, it did not warrant a stay of proceedings.

“This is a close case but we conclude the balance favours denying the stay,” wrote Chief Justice Robert Bauman and Justice Sunni Stromberg-Stein on behalf of a three-judge panel in December.

“The charges these applicants face are the most serious in our criminal justice system and the interests of India, and of our own community, in seeing them heard in court on their merits is very substantial.”

The pair have enjoyed a very “long and full day in court,” the judges added, noting their case has been considered by two justice ministers, the provincial appeal court and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Sidhu and Badesha have long opposed their surrender to India, arguing they would face violence and torture in Indian prisons.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in September 2017 to set aside a previous B.C. Court of Appeal ruling that had stopped extradition proceedings.