Extradition judge accepts testimony in Sidhu 'honour killing' 0
Jassi Sidhu, 25, (seen right) was slain in June 2000 while she was hiding from her family in India because of their disapproval of her marriage to a rickshaw driver. (PHOTO FROM JUSTICE FOR JASSI)
A judge has determined it’s not plausible to believe Maple Ridge’s Jassi Sidhu — who died in an alleged honour killing — was “held by the back of her neck” by her uncles and forced to sign papers disavowing her marriage to a poor Indian rickshaw driver before her death.
Sidhu’s body was found in India on June 9, 2000 after she and her husband Mithu Sidhu were intercepted and attacked. Mithu survived, but his wife’s body was found with her throat cut.
The case — which has already led to several convictions in India for Sidhu’s murder — now revolves around what “hearsay” evidence an extradition judge may use to determine whether Sidhu’s uncle Surjit Badesha and mother Malkit Sidhu would be sent back to India to face trial.
“It is alleged that Badesha and Sidhu conspired with, aided, or abetted the individuals who attacked Jassi and Mithu in India,” B.C. Supreme Court Justice Gregory Fitch said in a decision published Wednesday.
Fitch said it was inherently unlikely that the younger Sidhu could have been restrained by the neck in front of a public notary when she signed the papers, but noted the vast majority of exchanges Sidhu made with her co-workers and friends should be accepted as evidence.
Particularly, Badesha, according to the judge, objected to all of Sidhu’s assertions due to the amount of time that has passed since his niece last spoke to her fellow salon workers, a former teacher, a neighbour and a police officer.
Fitch said the recollections of witnesses are not “so fractured and incomplete” that their testimony is unreliable.
“To the contrary, the salon employees … generally demonstrated a remarkably rich and textured collection of the disturbing events they recounted,” he said.
The judge also rejected the notion — based on what Sidhu said to the witnesses — that her mother Malkit had “no say” about the marriage. That was because of evidence from the case that suggests she was in India, allegedly making threats to Mithu’s family about the marriage.
However, he accepted that Badesha, though just Sidhu’s uncle, was the person in charge of the entire family, as her own father suffers from schizophrenia.
Additionally, the judge accepted women in the family had, in general, little decision-making authority.
The case resumes Nov. 12.