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Sarabjit's sentence could be commuted to life imprisonment

March 18, 2008 22:04 IST
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Pakistan's caretaker human rights minister Ansar Burney said he does not rule out commuting the death sentence of Indian national Sarabjit Singh, who is to be hanged on April 1, to life imprisonment.

"Since he spent 18 years in jail, the President may consider converting his death sentence to life imprisonment. If there is an appeal for clemency for Sarabjit Singh, I will forward it to President and other authorities," he said.

Burney said Sarabjit's sister Dalbir Kaur telephoned him, seeking clemency for her brother.

"I told her that I am not in a position to pardon anyone and only the President can take any decision on the issue," Burney said.

However the Pakistani minister, who was personally involved in the release of another Indian prisoner, Kashmir Singh who was pardoned and freed after spending 35 years on death row in Pakistani jails, said he did not have any sympathy for Sarabjit as he is a 'terrorist involved in crimes against humanity'.

Earlier India sought clemency from Pakistan for Sarabjit saying any suggestion that he is being executed in retaliation for the death of a Pakistani in Indian custody will 'impinge on the current positive atmosphere' between the two countries.

Sarabjit was sentenced to death in 1991 for his alleged involvement in four bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan that killed 14 people. His family denies he was a spy as claimed by Pakistan and insists he accidentally strayed into Pakistani territory.

The mercy petition of Sarabjit, who Pakistan claims is Manjit Singh, was rejected by Musharraf on March 3.

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