AFP /The Hague
Islamabad should be ordered to immediately free an Indian man sentenced to death for alleged spying in Pakistan, India’s lawyers told the UN’s top court yesterday, saying his military trial was a “farcical case” based on “malicious propaganda”.
The hearing concerning Kulbushan Sudhir Jadhav at the International Court of Justice comes amid a sharp spike in tensions between the two neighbours, after a suicide attack on an military convoy last week and renewed fighting in Kashmir.
Jadhav, a former navy officer, was arrested in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan in March 2016 on charges of espionage and sentenced to death by a military court in 2017.
India insists Jadhav, 48, was not a spy and that he was kidnapped in Pakistan.
New Delhi is now asking the ICJ – which rules in disputes between countries – to nullify his sentence and to order Islamabad to set him free.
“Considering the trauma he has been subjected to over the past three years, it would be in the interest of justice of making human rights a reality, to direct his release,” India’s lawyer Harish Salve told the judges.
He said Jadhav’s trial by military court “hopelessly failed to satisfy even the minimum standards of due process and should be declared unlawful”.
Furthermore, he said, Pakistan “grossly violated” Jadhav’s human rights by refusing him consular access he was entitled to under the Vienna Convention, the treaty that governs diplomatic relations between countries.
India’s joint secretary at its External Affairs Ministry, Deepak Mittal, told the court the proceedings against Jadhav in Pakistan were based on a “farcical case” and “malicious propaganda”.
But Pakistan’s lawyer Khawar Qureshi hit back after the hearing, saying: “There are fundamental questions that India has yet to answer.
“Today, we are disappointed with India’s position. They’ve said nothing new,” Qureshi said, adding: “You will hear what we have to say about this tomorrow.”
New Delhi’s move in the controversial case comes as fresh bloodshed in Kashmir sent tensions between the neighbours soaring.
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