Death row ‘spy’ in Pakistan must be freed, India tells UN court

A car with the Indian flag is parked outside the International Court of Justice during the final hearing of the Kulbhushan Jadhav case in The Hague, the Netherlands, February 18, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 19 February 2019
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Death row ‘spy’ in Pakistan must be freed, India tells UN court

  • Jadhav was accused of working for the Indian intelligence services in the province bordering Afghanistan, where Islamabad has long accused India of backing separatist rebels

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 Monday, 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 nuclear-armed neighbors, after a suicide attack on an Indian military convoy last week and renewed fighting in disputed Kashmir.
Jadhav, a former navy officer, was arrested in the restive 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 neighbors soaring.
The rare foray into the international courts by India and Pakistan could be another flashpoint after Thursday’s suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir that killed 41 troops.
Indian troops suffered new losses Monday in a fierce battle with Kashmir militants that left at least seven more dead.
The latest confrontation piled more pressure on the Indian government, which has blamed Pakistan for the suicide attack that sparked widespread calls for action against its neighbor.
Pakistan has rejected the allegations.

Jadhav was accused of working for the Indian intelligence services in the province bordering Afghanistan, where Islamabad has long accused India of backing separatist rebels.
After a closed trial he was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on April 10, 2017, on charges of “espionage, sabotage and terrorism.”
Pakistan’s “story has always been strong on rhetoric and blurry on facts,” Salve told the judges, adding that consular access should be granted immediately.
Islamabad reacted coolly to the ICJ’s urgent order at the time to stay Jadhav’s execution, saying it “has not changed the status of commander Jadhav’s case in any manner.”
The ICJ’s decision will likely come months after this week’s hearings.
Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947 with both countries, which have fought three wars, claiming it as their own.
India and Pakistan also routinely accuse each other of sending spies into their countries and it is not uncommon for either nation to expel diplomats accused of espionage, particularly at times of high tension.
Death sentences however have been rarely issued in recent years.
The last time India and Pakistan took a dispute to the ICJ was in 1999 when Islamabad protested at the downing of a Pakistani navy plane that killed 16 people.
The tribunal decided that it was not competent to rule in the dispute and closed the case.


British PM Theresa May announces resignation

Updated 2 min 17 sec ago
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British PM Theresa May announces resignation

  • She will resign as Conservative Party leader on June 7 with a leadership contest in the following week
  • She endured crises and humiliation in her effort to find a compromise Brexit deal that parliament could ratify

LONDON:  British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday she would quit, triggering a contest that will bring a new leader to power who is likely to push for a more decisive Brexit divorce deal.

May set out a timetable for her departure — she will resign as Conservative Party leader on June 7 with a leadership contest beginning the following week.

“I will resign as leader of the Conservative and Unionist party on Friday, 7th June so that a successor can be chosen,” May said outside 10 Downing Street.

With her voice breaking up with emotion, May, who endured crises and humiliation in her effort to find a compromise Brexit deal that parliament could ratify, said she bore no ill will.

“I will shortly leave the job that has been the honor of my life to hold,” May said. “The second female prime minister, but certainly not the last.”

“I do so with no ill will but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love,” May said.

May, once a reluctant supporter of EU membership, who won the top job in the turmoil that followed the 2016 Brexit vote, steps down with her central pledges — to lead the United Kingdom out of the bloc and heal its divisions — unfulfilled.

May bequeaths a deeply divided country and a political elite that is deadlocked over how, when or whether to leave the EU. She said her successor would need to find a consensus in parliament on Brexit.

May’s departure will deepen the Brexit crisis as a new leader is likely to want a more decisive split, raising the chances of a confrontation with the European Union and a snap parliamentary election.

The leading contenders to succeed May all want a tougher divorce deal, although the EU has said it will not renegotiate the Withdrawal Treaty it sealed in November.