M A I N   N E W S

Sarabjit’s execution delayed indefinitely

Lahore, May 2
The Pakistan government has delayed the execution of Sarabjit Singh till further orders, a jail official said today.

Sarabjit Singh, whose family say he is the victim of mistaken identity, was to be hanged on April 1 after being convicted of involvement in 1990 blasts that killed four persons in Lahore.

But President Pervez Musharraf, who had earlier rejected a mercy petition, delayed his execution until April 30. It was further delayed again.

Speaking to AFP today, Malik Mubashir Ahmad Khan, superintendent of Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail, read out an interior ministry order, which said: "The execution of Indian national, Sarabjit Singh is stayed till further order." The stay of execution, which jail authorities received today, came days after Sarabjit's wife, daughters and sister visited Lahore to met him in prison.

The Supreme Court had earlier rejected an appeal against Sarabjit's death penalty.

Pakistan maintains Sarabjit was an Indian spy, but he and his family say he is a farmer who accidentally strayed across the border into Pakistan while drunk. He has been in jail in Pakistan since 1990.

His family say he was confused with another man named Manjit Singh, whom Pakistan blames for a series of bombings in Lahore.

Earlier, Pakistan’s leading human rights activist Ansar Burney said hanging Sarabjit Singh would be tantamount to “murder of humanity” as he had been convicted without “any substantial evidence”.

Burney, a former minister for human rights, who has been at the forefront of a campaign to commute Sarabjit’s death sentence to life imprisonment, has said there were several legal loopholes in his conviction.

Hanging Sarabjit would be tantamount to “a murder of humanity” as he had been convicted without “any substantial evidence”, Burney told reporters.

“I cannot allow the government to hang Sarabjit Singh on the basis that he is a non-Muslim and non-Pakistani, and because of pressure from extremist fundamentalist groups,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had told Gandhian Nirmala Deshpande some days before she died that he favoured clemency for Sarabjit Singh, her aide claimed today. The telephonic conversation between Musharraf and Deshpande took place a fortnight ago when she called the President to plead for Sarabjit’s life. — Agencies



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