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Sarabjit sends mercy petition to Musharraf
K.J.M. Varma

Islamabad, April 1
Indian national Sarabjit Singh, condemned to death for his alleged involvement in four bomb blasts in Pakistan, has sent a mercy petition to President Pervez Musharraf, seeking release on the grounds that he was innocent and wrongly implicated.

The petition was sent to President Musharraf last week both by post and through the high-security jail near Lahore, where Sarabjit is currently imprisoned, seeking pardon under the powers granted to the President by Pakistanís constitution, the Indian prisonerís lawyer, Rana Abdul Hameed, told PTI today.

Hamid, who has been hired by a Canadian human rights group to defend Sarabjit, said from Lahore over telephone that the mercy petition was filed after the Supreme Court last month dismissed an application by him, seeking review of the death sentence given to him in a bomb blast case at Yakkin Gate in Lahore in 1990 in which three persons were killed and several injured.

The mercy petition was filed even though the Supreme Court is yet to give verdict on another case against Sarabjit in which he was accused of being involved in three more bomb blasts in Pakistanís Punjab province.

In his earlier petitions to the courts, including the Supreme Court, he said he had inadvertently crossed the border and later caught by the police and wrongly implicated in the cases.

Hamid said in the mercy petition, it has been argued that Sarabjit, who the Pakistan police claimed was Manjit Singh, was not given an opportunity to defend himself, both in the anti-terrorism court and later in the higher courts.

The petition also sought his release for the betterment of Indo-Pakistan relations which have vastly improved during the past three years.

ďIf Sarabjit Singh is not pardoned it can have an adverse impact on the relations between the two countries,Ē Hamid said.

President Musharraf is expected to act on the petition after the Supreme Court delivers a judgement on Sarabjitís another review petition involving three bomb blast cases in Punjab province.

Meanwhile, both prosecution and defence lawyers said President Musharraf had absolute powers to pardon Sarabjit and refuted assertions by certain Pakistani ministers that he could not do so.

Assistant Advocate-General of Punjab province Afshan Ghazanfer, who appeared in Sarabjit Singhís case on behalf of the prosecution, told PTI from Lahore that Article 45 of the constitution granted absolute powers to the President to pardon him and he was not constrained by any legal impediments.

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