Sarabjit Singh a victim of 'cross-border politics': lawyer

Sarabjit Singh

Seeking immediate release of Sarabjit Singh, an Indian national on death row in Pakistan, his lawyer Awais Sheikh has said Singh is a "victim of politics on both sides of the border".

"Sarabjit has been unjustifiably jailed for over 22 years for a crime that he did not commit. He was mistakenly held in the name of another person, Manjit Singh. It is Manjit's name that features in the FIR in a case of bombings in Pakistan in 1990," Sheikh said.

Sheikh has written a book on his client, 'A Case of Mistaken Identity' which "gives documentary evidence... reading which one can come to the conclusion that Sarabjit is a victim of mistaken identity".

The lawyer said Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari can exercise his powers under Section 45 of the Pakistani constitution which, "empowers him to reduce, alter, change or amend" the decision and commute Sarabjit's death sentence to life imprisonment.

Since Sarabjit has already completed 22 years in prison, Sheikh said his client could walk free if his sentence was commuted.

Sarabjit is on death row for the last 20 years following his conviction for alleged involvement in a series of bombings in Pakistan in 1990.

Calling himself a peace activist, Sheikh said all he was aiming at was cordial relations between India and Pakistan.

"My purpose is not to prove Pakistani authorities or its courts wrong or (show them) in a poor light. Let me state that I am not an Indian agent, but a peace activist. I want that the truth must prevail and an innocent (Sarabjit) should be saved from the gallows," Sheikh said.

Sheikh added that the hanging of Pakistan national Ajmal Kasab for his role in the 26/11 terror attack would not affect Sarabjit's fate as the two cases were entirely different.

"Kasab's case was related to terrorism in which many were killed. There was video footage to back the evidence. Whereas Sarabjit's case is one of mistaken identity," Sheikh said, adding that Pakistan has "officially accepted in court that Kasab was a Pakistani national..."

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