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Lawyer asks Pak Prez to pardon Sarabjit

By Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
June 27, 2009 13:53 IST
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Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh's counsel on Saturday appealed to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to either pardon him or commute his death sentence to life imprisonment, three days after the Supreme court dismissed his appeal against the capital punishment.

Rana Abdul Hamid, the lawyer representing Sarabjit, said the President should act on several mercy petitions that were pending with him.

"We filed a mercy petition in 2006. There are also appeals from the Indian government, Sarabjit's family and other persons," Hamid told PTI.

Hamid did not appear during the two recent hearings in the Supreme Court of Sarabjit's review petition challenging his death sentence handed out to him in 1991 for alleged involvement in four blasts in Pakistan as the lawyer was working as an Additional Advocate General of Punjab province till June 26.

A three-member bench of the apex court on June 24 dismissed the review petition and upheld Sarabjit's death sentence after Hamid failed to appear in court. The judges also said they studied the case and found "no ground" to review the death sentence.

Hamid said his job as the Additional Advocate General had ended and he was again representing Sarabjit.

Rights activists campaigning on behalf of Sarabjit have said any positive development in his case would strengthen relations between India and Pakistan.

Leading rights activist Ansar Burney, who has often asked the government to pardon Sarabjit, condemned the apex court's decision to dismiss Sarabjit's review petition. He also questioned why the apex court had issued a verdict even though Sarabjit was not represented at the hearings by his lawyer. Burney too has appealed to the President to show clemency to Sarabjit, who has been on death row since he was convicted for alleged involvement in the 1990 blasts that killed 14 people.

Sarabjit's family insists that he was wrongly convicted for the bombings.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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