M A I N   N E W S

Sarabjit gets new lawyer
To file fresh review petition

Amritsar/Islamabad, June 27
Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh, who is languishing in a Pakistani jail for the last 18 years, has got a new lawyer, days after the Supreme Court in Islamabad dismissed his appeal against capital punishment.

Sarabjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur today said she “no longer had faith” in Rana Abdul Hamid, who was representing him till now, questioning the lawyer’s non-appearance during the two recent hearings of the review petition challenging the death sentence handed out to the Indian in 1991 for alleged involvement in four blasts in Pakistan.

Sarabjit’s new lawyer Owis Sheikh said it was due to Hamid’s “negligence” that the review petition was dismissed ex-parte and said he will file a fresh petition in the court.

“I’m filing a review petition, his restoration application before the Supreme Court. This is one remedy available. If this is rejected, then the only remedy available is to file a mercy petition before the President of Pakistan,” Sheikh said in Islamabad.

The lawyer said carrying out the death sentence will “badly affect” relations between Pakistan and India.

“It will create a good atmosphere if he is pardoned. This is a very crucial case, internationally known.... The President is keen to create good atmosphere and promote peace with India,” Sheikh said, adding he was optimistic that the capital punishment will not be carried out.

Hamid, however, claimed that he was still Sarabjit’s lawyer. He said as his tenure as additional advocate-general of Punjab province ended on June 26 and he was again representing the Indian prisoner.

Hamid also appealed to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to act on several mercy petitions that were pending with him.

But Kaur said she had spoken to Sheikh over phone this morning and he was ready to represent Sarabjit “without charging a penny” while Hamid had been demanding a hefty fee. “Hamid demanded Rs 6 lakh to pursue the case but here in India the entire family is struggling for two square meals and it is next to impossible to arrange such an amount,” she claimed.

“I have no more faith in Rana Abdul Hamid as he did not tell us the reason as to why did not appear in the Supreme Court of Pakistan when the mercy petition of my brother was being heard,” she said over phone.

Kaur said that new lawyer met her during a visit to Amritsar in December last year and had promised “to provide his services to save Sarabjit from the gallows”.

Sheikh, who is also a human rights activist would launch a campaign to save the life of Sarabjit with the help other NGOs in Pakistan.

Kaur said she also received a call from Pakistani Human Right activist Ansar Burney, who has played a major role in getting Indian prisoners released, that he had got an appointment with Zardari on the issue of unconditional clemency for Sarabjit.

Meanwhile, A former lawyer who represented Sarabjit Singh has appealed to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to either pardon him or commute his death sentence to life imprisonment. Rana Abdul Hamid said Zardari should act on the several mercy petitions that were pending before him. — PTI



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