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Pakistan stays execution of Sarabjit Singh

Source: PTI
Last updated on: May 03, 2008 01:33 IST
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The Pakistan government has postponed "till further order" the execution of Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh, his lawyer said on Friday night.

"Yes, it has been postponed till further orders by the government of Pakistan and the president of Pakistan," said Rana Abdul Hameed.

Senior Interior Ministry official Kamal Shah was quoted by Associated Press as saying that Sarabjit's execution process has been halted.

The lawyer said there were chances that Sarabjit's death sentence could be commuted to life imprisonment and since he has already served life sentence, he might be released.

Arrested and tried on charges of triggering bomb blasts in Lahore in 1990, Sarabjit has been languishing in Pakistani prisons for the last 18 years.

AFP quoted Malik Mubashir Ahmad Khan, superintendent of Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail, as reading out an Interior Ministry order, which said: "The execution of Indian national, Sarabjit Singh is stayed till further order."

Rana Hameed told Indian TV channels that there were chances that Sarabjit would be pardoned by the government, by the president of Pakistan.

Sarabjit, whose family says he is the victim of mistaken identity, was to be hanged on April 1 after being convicted of involvement in 1990 blasts.

However, President Pervez Musharraf, who had earlier rejected a mercy petition, delayed execution until April 30.

The stay of execution, which jail authorities received on Friday, came days after Sarabjit's wife, daughters and sister visited him in the Lahore jail.

Sarabjit's sister Dalbir Kaur told PTI in Amritsar that she has no words to thank the Pakistan government for the indefinite postponement of the execution of her brother and it indicated that the government has made up its mind to grant clemency to him.

The Pakistan Supreme Court had earlier rejected an appeal against Sarabjit's death penalty.

Kaur, who along with her family members was in Pakistan from April 23 to April 29, said she was hopeful now that the Pakistan government would set her brother free.

Sarabjit's family maintains he was arrested after the 1990 Lahore blasts, which left 14 people dead, at a different province of Pakistan in the name of Manjit Singh and not at the spot of the incident.

Observers said the decision to put on hold Sarabjit's execution till further order was expected as it would send the right signal in the run-up to talks between External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Islamabad on May 20 and 21.

The hanging of the Indian prisoner at this juncture would have dealt a blow to the efforts of India and Pakistan to resume the composite dialogue.

Official sources said Musharraf had directed that Sarabjit's execution be put off till further order.

The sources also said Sarabjit's death sentence is expected to be commuted to life imprisonment.

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