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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

German envoy urges India to reconsider death penalty

PTI  Hyderabad, April 26, 2013
First Published: 15:12 IST(26/4/2013) | Last Updated: 15:15 IST(26/4/2013)

German Ambassador to India Michael Steiner said that his nation opposes the death penalty in principle to all convicts, including former Khalistan Liberation Force terrorist Devinderpal Singh Bhullar.

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The diplomat said that Germany's intension was communicated to the Indian government, as the death penalty would not serve the cause of justice.

"In principle, we are against the application of death penalty. This is our position. Everybody knows it. We are not alone in the world. Many countries take this position. India knows it. We communicated this to India also because, in principle, we think it does not serve the cause of justice to have a death penalty," Steiner told PTI.

Bhullar was awarded death penalty for triggering a bomb blast in New Delhi in September 1993, killing nine people and injuring 25 others, including then Youth Congress president M S Bitta.

While trying to escape to Canada via Germany, he was caught by German authorities in December 1994. Later he applied for asylum in Germany. However, Germany deported him to India in January 1995.

On 26 March 2002, the apex court dismissed Bhullar's appeal against the death sentence awarded by a trial court in August 2001 and endorsed by the Delhi High Court in 2002.

After a lapse of over eight years, the President dismissed his mercy plea on 25 May 2011.

Two weeks ago, the apex court dismissed Bhullar's plea to commute his death sentence to life imprisonment on grounds of a delay in deciding his mercy plea.

Replying to a query, Steiner said he did not request the Indian government specifically on Bhullar's issue.

"I did not request anything. I think our position is crystal clear on this point and applies to all cases where death penalty is pending," the envoy said.

Steiner is in Hyderabad as part of the 'Excellence on Tour 2013', an initiative of the German government and German House for Research and Innovation (DWIH New Delhi).

The eight-day show will showcase the various research opportunities available in Germany and give the audience a chance to directly interact with participating German institutions, the ambassador said.


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