Burney files fresh mercy plea for Sarabjit

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Islamabad, Apr 21 : Pakistan's former Human Rights Minister Ansar Burney on Monday filed a fresh mercy petition to President Pervez Musharraf seeking clemency for Indian national Sarabjit Singh, sentenced to death for alleged involvement in the 1990 blasts in Lahore and Multan.

"The matter of Sarabjit Singh has become a suspicious case in view of the evidence that I have gathered," said Burney.

Burney said the evidence gathered by him point out that Sarabjits name did not figure in any of the four FIRs registered by police in connection with the bomb attacks that killed 14 people in Punjab province.

"The identification parade in which Sarabjit was identified was conducted in a police station and not before a Magistrate. The evidence in all four FIRs was recorded by one Magistrate and not by different Magistrates," he added. One of the witnesses, a man named Shaukat, has said that he was forced to testify against Sarabjit in court," Burney said.

He said he would raise all these issues in his fresh appeal to be sent to the President.

Burney said he would try to meet Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani to take up Sarabjits case.

After hearing the news, Sarabjit's sister Dalbir Kaur said, "I am very happy and I hope Sarabjit will be free soon."

She said, "We are very grateful to Burney for his support and for believing our claims that Sarabjit was innocent."

Incidentally, the newly elected Pakistan Government has also been favouring the Sarabjit's case. They had in fact asked for commuting of all death sentences to life imprisonment.

Sarabjit was to be hanged on April 1, but was put off till April 30 after India had appealed to the Pakistan Government for clemency.

On Friday, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had issued a fresh appeal to Islamabad to grant clemency to Sarabjit on humanitarian grounds. There has not been any official response from Islamabad to Mukherjee's appeal.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader L K Advani had also sought clemency for Sarabjit.

President Pervez Musharraf had earlier rejected his appeal for clemency.

Sarabjit has been on death row since the 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.

Sarabjit's family denies he is a spy as claimed by Pakistan, and insists he accidentally strayed into Pakistani territory.

Singh's family has stated that files containing evidence that would help in his acquittal are lost in Pakistan.

ANI

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