Pakistan to reconsider death penalty for alleged India spy

March 18th, 2008 - 10:25 pm ICT by admin  

Islamabad, March 18 (DPA) A Pakistani minister said Tuesday that the government might reconsider the death penalty of an alleged Indian spy whose execution has been set April 1. “There are chances of clemency for him. If President Prevez Musharraf receives a mercy plea from Mr Singh’s family, he has the right to forgive him,” said the country’s Human Rights Minister Ansar Burney, who was approached by Singh’s sister with a telephone request of forgiveness.

Under article 45 of the constitution, the president has the right to forgive any prisoner or grant mercy to any condemned prisoner, Burney added, pledging that he would recommend Musharraf commute the death penalty to a life sentence.

Sarbajit Singh was arrested in 1990 on the Pakistan-India border and charged with carrying out four bombings that killed 14 people and injured dozens more in Lahore and Faisalabad. His 1991 death sentence was upheld by Pakistan’s Supreme Court in 2006.

Singh, who has been identified as an agent of Indian intelligence agency, RAW (Research and Analysis Wing), denies the allegations, saying he is from a poor family who mistakenly crossed the border.

Musharraf last month rejected Singh’s mercy petition, but the Indian government appealed to the Pakistan government Monday to show leniency in a last ditch attempt to save Singh’s life.

“We hope that considering humanitarian aspects, some leniency would be shown to him,” said India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the following day that it had received India’s request.

“We are bringing the request to the notice of the concerned authority,” Mohammed Sadiq, foreign ministry spokesman told DPA. “It is difficult to say what will happen to the appeal.”

Hopes for Sarabjit Singh’s release were raised earlier this month when Musharraf pardoned another alleged Indian spy Kashmir Singh, who was allowed to return home March 4 after spending 35 years in Pakistani prisons.

The case was the first in which a person accused of espionage was released by either Pakistan or India.

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