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Sarabjit's lawyer may file review petition in Pak SC

By K J M Varma in Islamabad
September 23, 2005 17:08 IST
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The lawyer of Sarabjit Singh, whose death sentence was upheld by the Pakistan Supreme Court for allegedly carrying out bomb blasts in 1990, plans to file a review petition before the apex court on September 26.

Rana Abdul Hamid, who has been hired by a human rights group from Canada to save Singh's life, told PTI over phone from Lahore on Friday that he was awaiting the government's permission to meet his client, imprisoned in Kot Lakhpat jail, despite seeking it over a month back.

Hamid said that if he was not granted permission, he may file a writ petition in the Lahore High Court at the earliest seeking a meeting with Singh.

On the review petition in the Supreme Court, he said he was getting the papers ready for the petition to be filed possibly on September 26 but wanted the government's nod to meet Singh before he files it. "It is important for me to meet my client before I file the review petition," he said.

He said he also met Additional Home Secretary of Punjab Province Prisons, Javed Iqbal, and sought his intervention to get the permission to meet Singh.

On August 18, a two-member bench of the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence awarded to Singh, who Pakistan claims is Manjit Singh, by dismissing his appeals on similar judgement of the Lahore High Court and Anti-Terrorism Court.

The Supreme Court had released its detailed judgement on September 13. Singh has to file a review petition within 30 days after that date. Hamid was hopeful about the chances of the review petition succeeding in the apex court, saying that it was the last legal resort left with Singh.

Hamid, in his review petition, plans to inform the apex court about the assertions by a key witness that he was forced
to positively identify Singh as present at the time of explosion in one of the five blast sites in Pakistan's Punjab province in 1990.

The witness had told an Indian television channel early in September that he had not seen Singh before and was asked by a Pakistani Army major, who investigated the case, to depose before the court that he had seen Singh at the blast site. 

The lawyer said it was imperative, however, that the witness should say that before the court, whatever he has stated to the channel. The defence counsel argued that chances are that the prosecution mistook Sarabjit, who crossed to Pakistani side inadvertently, to Manjit Singh.

The Supreme Court judgement has already overruled the contention of Hamid that the entire case against Singh was
based on his confessional statement which he withdrew subsequently. It said the confessional statement was corroborated by witness accounts and circumstantial evidence.

The apex court said the defence counsel failed to convince it that the witness who sustained the injuries had any personal motive in testifying against Singh. If the review petition fails, Singh could appeal for mercy to President Pervez Musharraf who, in a recent meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, promised to take a compassionate look at the case.

Meanwhile, top Pakistani ministers are locked in a debate on whether Musharraf has the power to grant clemency to  Singh as, under Islamic law, the accused should be pardoned by the relatives of the victims of the bomb blasts only.

Complete coverage: The Sarabjit Singh homepage

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K J M Varma in Islamabad
Source: PTI© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.