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Extradition OK'd to India in 'honour' killing

By: The Canadian Press

 | May 09, 2014 - 2:46 PM |
VANCOUVER - A mother and uncle accused of arranging the so-called "honour" killing of a young British Columbia woman have been ordered extradited to India by a B.C. Supreme Court judge.

Jaswinder (Jassi) Sidhu was stabbed to death in Punjab in June 2000 and her mother, Malkit Kaur Sidhu, and uncle, Surjit Singh Badesha, are accused of murder and conspiracy in India.

The Crown alleged the pair orchestrated the murder because Sidhu had married a poor rickshaw driver in India, rather than the wealthy older man they preferred.

They fought extradition, arguing there wasn't enough evidence to force them to face charges in India.

Twenty-five-year-old Sidhu secretly married against the wishes of her family and fled Canada for India to reunite with her husband. Mithu Sidhu survived the attack.

Four men have already been convicted of murder in India.

In a ruling delivered Friday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Gregory Fitch said Jassi Sidhu's family wanted her to accept the arranged marriage.

"They were very angry about what Jassi had done and hostile to the (idea) that Jassi would seek to free herself from her family."

The judge noted that Badesha was the family patriarch and enforced traditional gender roles in the home.

"Badesha and Sidhu resorted to violence and threats."

The pair, who both appeared in court via video link, have been ordered to remain in custody until their extradition.

Dressed in a jail-issue green sweatsuit, Sidhu sat motionless with her hands hanging loosely in her lap.

Badesha, dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit with a blue kerchief covering his head, leaned forward as the judge recounted the facts, his face dropping out of view on the courtroom monitor.

Fitch heard evidence at a series of hearings last year and in January.

Jassi Sidhu was living in Maple Ridge, east of Vancouver, in February 2000 when her family learned of her clandestine marriage.

Friends and coworkers testified that in the months that followed, she was under watch around the clock and feared for her life.

The Crown alleged the mother and uncle embarked on a "systematic campaign of terror," ordering Jassi Sidhu to end the marriage and restore the family's honour.

Despite her family's disapproval, Jassi Sidhu went to India in May 2000 with the intention of bringing her husband home to Canada.

The couple was attacked on June 8, 2000. Her body was found several days later.

The Crown presented evidence to show there were more than 250 telephone calls between Badesha and some of the men convicted in the death, beginning immediately after the couple's marriage came to light and peaking the day Jassi Sidhu was killed.

The court heard Jassi Sidhu was likely stabbed with a kirpan, which her husband saw in the hands of one of the assailants, and that it was probably the same blood-stained kirpan later found by police at the farm of one of the convicted men.

The Crown has said police also found a photo of the woman with her personal details written on the back.

Malkit Kaur Sidhu's lawyer acknowledged his client was upset with the marriage, but he said that didn't prove she conspired to have her daughter killed.

Badesha's lawyer suggested the passage of time and widespread coverage of the crime — including a movie and a book based on her life — made witness testimony unreliable.

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