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Page last updated at 06:48 GMT, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 07:48 UK

Hanging of Indian 'spy' deferred

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

Pakistan has deferred the hanging of an Indian man convicted for spying and carrying out bomb attacks.

Sarabjit Singh, lodged in Lahore jail, was to be executed on 1 May. His hanging has been put off by 21 days.

Singh says he is a poor farmer and victim of mistaken identity who strayed drunk from his border village into Pakistan. He was convicted in 1991.

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

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

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.

His hanging was initially set for 1 April. President Pervez Musharraf deferred it to 1 May.

Singh's relatives, including his wife, two daughters, sister and her husband, among others, are in Pakistan in a last-ditch attempt to save him.

They have met former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and are hoping to meet President Musharraf, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani and top politician Asif Zardari.

'Family's plight'

Efforts to save Singh brightened on Monday as Mr Sharif asked the government not to hang him on humanitarian grounds.

Mr Sharif's Muslim League (N) party is part of the governing coalition in Pakistan.

"After seeing the plight of the members of Sarabjit's family who have come to Pakistan, any person can feel the pain they are going through," Mr Sharif told Pakistan's Aaj news channel.

But, Mr Sharif said, Singh should be released on the condition that India would send him back to Pakistan if new evidence is found against him.

Singh's family met him in jail last week and they say they are hopeful that he will be pardoned and released.

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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