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Sarabjit's lawyer to file fresh mercy plea

Source: PTI
July 06, 2009 14:07 IST
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Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh's lawyer will file a fresh mercy petition before Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday, in the wake of the Supreme Court dismissing his appeal against capital punishment.

Owais Sheikh, the new counsel for Sarabjit, said the petition seeking clemency for the Indian national will include a letter addressed to Zardari by the condemned man.

"I will file the mercy petition on Wednesday. I have also sought a meeting with the President so I can take up the matter with him personally," Sheikh said on Monday, shortly after meeting Sarabjit at Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore.

Sheikh said the petition will include a letter from Sarabjit, in which he has asked the President to pardon him on humanitarian grounds, so that he could live the rest of his life with his family in India.

Noting that he had already spent nearly 19 years in prison, Sarabjit said in the letter that Islam taught its followers to forgive instead of taking revenge.

Sheikh said Sarabjit had called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take up his case with the Pakistan government. Sarabjit also urged the Indian government to treat all Pakistani prisoners in a humane manner and free them expeditiously, he added.

The issue of legal representation for Sarabjit has been mired in confusion over the past few weeks with Sheikh and another lawyer named Rana Abdul Hamid claiming to be his counsel.

However, Sarabjit's sister Dalbir Kaur clarified that she had appointed Sheikh as her brother's counsel after Hamid failed to appear in Pakistan's Supreme Court in June during hearings of Sarabjit's review petition, challenging his death sentence.

Hamid did not appear during at least two hearings in the apex court of Sarabjit's review petition as he was working as an additional advocate general of Punjab province till June.

A three-member bench of the apex court had dismissed the review petition and upheld Sarabjit's death sentence. The judges noted that Sarabjit's counsel had not appeared in court but also said that they had studied his case and found 'no ground' to review the death sentence.

Sarabjit has been on death row since he was convicted for alleged involvement in four bomb blasts in Pakistan in 1990 that killed 14 people.

Sarabjit's family insists he was wrongly convicted for the bombings. Pakistan's Supreme Court and former president Pervez Musharraf have rejected his mercy petitions in the past.

Though Sarabjit was set to be hanged in April last year, his execution was put off indefinitely after the intervention of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

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