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Hopes rise for Sarabjit Singh's freedom

January 05, 2012 12:17 IST

Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, currently on death row following his conviction for alleged involvement in bomb attacks in 1990, is hopeful that his fresh mercy petition will get a "favourable decision" from President Asif Ali Zardari, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Awais Sheikh, the counsel for Sarabjit, said the fresh mercy petition had received "special attention" from Zardari.

"This time, there are bright prospects of Sarabjit's release," he said.

Sarabjit's release will help expedite the peace process between India and Pakistan, he claimed.

He further claimed Sarabjit was to be released on August 14 last year, which is Pakistan's Independence Day, in exchange for Pakistani national Khalil Chishti, who is currently being held in a jail in India's Rajasthan state.

But the decision was "withdrawn at the eleventh hour when Indian authorities did not release Chishti", Sheikh claimed.

Sheikh said that following a pledge he made to the Lahore High Court, he recently visited India and urged authorities there to expedite the repatriation of Pakistani citizens detained in Indian jails.

He appealed to the governments of India and Pakistan to repatriate prisoners who had completed their jail terms.

Sarabjit has been on death row since he was convicted for alleged involvement in four bomb blasts that killed 14 people in 1990.

His family insists he was wrongly convicted for the bombings.

Though Sarabjit was set to be hanged in 2008, Pakistani authorities put off his execution indefinitely after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani intervened in the matter.

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