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Burney files plea for clemency to Sarabjit

Islamabad, April 21
Making a last ditch effort to save Sarabjit Singh, former Pakistani human rights minister Ansar Burney today petitioned President Pervez Musharraf seeking clemency for the death row prisoner, saying his “biggest crime may have been his Indian nationality”.

Burney in the mercy petition pleaded that Sarabjit’s death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment or he be released since the case against him was “weak” and there was “little to justify the death sentence” awarded to him by a Pakistani court in 1991.

Sarabjit was given capital punishment for his alleged involvement in bomb attacks in 1990.

Burney, who is a member of the advisory committee of the UN Human Rights Council, said, “With so many facts in favour of Sarabjit and so little to justify the death sentence awarded to him, it seemed Sarabjit’s biggest crime may have been his Indian nationality as no unbiased court would ever sentence a man to death in such a weak case.”

Sarabjit’s execution was deferred for 30 days by Musharraf last month so that Pakistan’s new government could review his case following appeals for clemency from the Indian government. He was originally set to be hanged on April 1.

Burney said he had made “several legal arguments in favour of Sarabjit” and these “meant that Sarabjit could not legally be hanged”. He said he had informed Musharraf that a key witness in the case, a man named Shaukat Salim, had said in a TV interview that he had been forced by the police to testify against the Indian national.

Salim had said he was forced to testify even though he “had never seen Sarabjit in his life, let alone see him commit an act of terrorism,” Burney said. — PTI



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