Burney presses new Pak Govt to release Sarabjit Singh

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Islamabad, Mar 24 : Pakistan caretaker Government's Human Rights Minister Ansar Burney on Monday urged the new incoming government to consider converting Sarabjit Singh's death sentence into life imprisonment on "humanitarian grounds".

Burney also requested the incoming Government and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani to convert Sarabjit's death sentence into life imprisonment 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 Singh's execution has been deferred by a month, with the new date of execution set at April 30 this year after an appeal for clemency from the Indian Government and his family.

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.

He has been languishing in a Pakistani jail for 17 years. urney said we are hopeful that the new Government would continue improving the human rights situation in Pakistan as necessary reforms had already been initiated at various levels.

"I would also like to request for jail reforms and the stopping of human trafficking and slavery," he said.

He also suggested that prisoners who have spent over 10 years in jails should be pardoned and their death sentences converted into life imprisonment as prisoners cannot be given two sentences for the same crime.

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