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Sarabjit release appears bleak

india Updated: Apr 13, 2008 02:34 IST
Nagendar Sharma
Nagendar Sharma
Hindustan Times
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The chances of securing the release of Sarabjit Singh from the gallows in Pakistan “appear bleak” though all efforts should be made to commute his death sentence to life imprisonment, leading human rights activist and former Pakistani minister Ansar Burney has said.

Burney, a member of the UN Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, said Sarabjit's case was not an easy one to plead as his involvement in an act of terror was proved in a court of law and upheld by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

“Sarabjit was found guilty in a bomb blasts case in which 14 people were killed. It was a terrorist act. Even his family has not been able to give me clinching evidence on his claim of a mistaken identity,” the former Pakistani Human Rights Minister, who is on a visit to India, said.

Conceding that Sarabjit’s release appeared unlikely, Burney said he was making all efforts to try and reason with the Pakistani government for the only likely solution of “commuting his death sentence to life imprisonment”.

Burney said he was moved by the support for Sarabjit in India and would try to convince the Pakistani government that since doubts remain in the case, the hanging should not be carried out. “A pertinent question to ask is that if Sarabjit's case was so serious, how did it linger on for 18 years? Since he has spent that time in solitary confinement, which in my view is more than a life sentence, the hanging should not take place,” he said.

Sarabjit was sentenced to death in 1991 for his alleged involvement in four bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan in which 14 people died. His mercy petition has been rejected by President Pervez Musharraf and he was to be hanged on April 1. However, it was postponed by a month after the Indian government appealed to Pakistan for clemency in the case.