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Page last updated at 12:24 GMT, Wednesday, 23 April 2008 13:24 UK

Mission to save Pakistan convict

By M Ilyas Khan
BBC News, Karachi

Sarabjit Singh's wife Sukhpreet Kaur holds a photograph of her husband
Sarabjit Singh's family is hoping he may be released

Relatives of an Indian man on death row in Pakistan for spying and carrying out bomb attacks have arrived in Lahore in a last-ditch attempt to save him.

Sarabjit Singh is lodged in Lahore jail and is to be executed on 1 May.

He says he is a poor farmer and victim of mistaken identity who strayed drunk from his border village into Pakistan.

Last month, President Pervez Musharraf rejected Singh's mercy petition and signed his death warrant. Singh was convicted in 1991.

He was found guilty of spying and carrying out four bombings which killed 14 people in the Pakistani cities of Lahore and Faisalabad in 1990.

Pakistani officials say Sarabjit Singh is actually Manjit Singh who was arrested while trying to slip back into India.

Hope

Singh's relatives, including his wife, two daughters, sister and her husband, among others, crossed into Pakistan from India through the Wagha crossing on Wednesday morning.

Singh's sister, Dalbir Kaur, told journalists the family had filed a request with the Pakistani high commission in Delhi to be allowed to meet him.

"They told us that we may be able to meet him today," she said.

Dalbir Kaur
Ms Kaur says her brother is paying for someone else's crimes

Ms Kaur said the family would also like to meet President Musharraf, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani and top politicians Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif.

The family is hoping that a Pakistani government's proposal that all death sentences be commuted to life imprisonment may lead to Singh's release.

"The government has punished him for sins that were committed by someone called Manjit Singh," Ms Kaur said.

"He is not Manjit Singh, and Indian agencies have clarified in 2005 that Sarabjit wasn't working for any of them," she said.

Asked about Singh's confession, she said: "The police can get elephants to confess to uncommitted crimes, what is a human?"

The family is expected to stay in Pakistan for a week during which they will try to see Singh in jail, and also visit some Sikh holy places.

The case has received wide publicity in India and the government has come under intense political pressure to intervene.

In 2005, former Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh asked for Mr Singh to be pardoned on humanitarian grounds.

India and Pakistan have jailed hundreds of each other's soldiers and civilians during years of hostility.





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