By Ravinder Singh Robin
Wagah, Apr 2, : Former Pakistan Human Rights Minister Ansar Burney, who has arrived in India to meet Sarabjit Singh's family, on Wednesday said that he was against the death penalty.
Earlier last month, Sarabjit, who is languishing in the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore for the last 17 years, got a reprieve of a month with his hanging being deferred until April 30.
"Every prisoner lodged in India or Pakistani jails that has completed their sentence should be released without any delay," said Burney who arrived here at the invitation of Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal.
While showing sympathy for Sarabjit's family, Burney said: "Even if we presume that Sarabjit was a terrorist, yet his family should not suffer on his account. They were as innocent as any other person."
Last month, Burney had urged the new Pakistani Government to consider converting Sarabjit's death sentence into life imprisonment on "humanitarian grounds" as he had "spent more than a life sentence on death row in Pakistani jails", which was "worse than hell".
President Pervez Musharraf had rejected his appeal for clemency on March 3.
Sarabjit has been on death row since Pakistan's Supreme Court rejected his petition for mercy in March 2006. He has been accused of having played a major role in serial blasts across Pakistan, which claimed at least 14 lives in 1991.
According to media reports, Burney is supposed to gather evidence of Sarabjit's innocence from his family and is likely to meet Pakistanis held in Indian jails.
It may be recalled that Burney had played a significant role in another Indian Kashmir Singh's release, who spent 35 years in Pakistani jails.
The day Kashmir Singh was released, Sarbjit's sister Dalbir Kaur had requested Burney to take up the case of her brother. Sarabjit's family claims that his was a clear case of mistaken identity.
The Indian Government has sought consular access and pressed for clemency for Sarabjit.