India demands Pakistan release accused ‘spy’ after world court ruling

Indian officials said the relatives of the alleged spy reported that he looked as if he has been tortured. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 July 2019

India demands Pakistan release accused ‘spy’ after world court ruling

  • Kulbhushan Jadhav is a former navy officer
  • ICJ ruled that Pakistan review his death sentence and give him proper representation

NEW DELHI: India on Thursday demanded that Pakistan release an alleged spy after the International Court of Justice called for a review of a death sentence against him.

The arch-rivals each declared victory after the world court ruling made late Wednesday. But with 49-year-old Kulbhushan Jadhav still held in secret, his case risked setting off new tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said Jadhav, a former navy officer, “is in the illegal custody of Pakistan under fabricated charges” as he welcomed the court ruling.

“Yesterday’s judgment is not only a vindication of India and Mr.Jadhav but for all those who believe in the rule of law and the sanctity of international conventions,” the minister added.

Jaishankar insisted that Jadhav “is innocent of the charges levelled against him” and had been forced to confess without access to a lawyer.

“We once again call upon Pakistan to release and repatriate him forthwith.”

The ICJ said Pakistan must give India consular access to the prisoner, give Jadhav proper representation and review the death sentence. But it rejected India’s demand that Jadhav be freed.

Pakistan said Jadhav was detained in its southwestern province of Baluchistan in March 2016.

It released a “confession” video in which Jadhav said he worked for Indian intelligence. A military court sentenced him to death in 2017.

According to Indian officials, Jadhav retired from the navy in 2001 and was running a “logistics” business in the Iranian port of Chabahar.

India insisted he was taken captive in Iran before being moved to Pakistan and then forced to confess.

It started an ICJ case in 2017. Throughout the hearings, Jadhav has been kept under strict lock and key in Pakistan.

Apart the video in which he said he graduated from India’s premier defense academy and began to help Indian intelligence in 2001, the only sighting of Jadhav was when his mother and wife saw him for 40 minutes on December 25, 2017.

Indian officials say relatives reported that he appeared to have been tortured.

Relations between the neighbors frequently boil over. They have fought three wars since independence in 1947 and staged air battles on their border in February.

New Delhi frequently says there can be no improvement in relations until its neighbor takes action to rein in militant attacks in India.

Keeping up the rivalry, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said late Wednesday that “truth and justice have prevailed” with the ruling.

His Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan hit back through his Twitter account.

“Appreciate ICJ’s decision not to acquit, release and return Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav to India,” Khan said.

“He is guilty of crimes against the people of Pakistan. Pakistan shall proceed further as per law,” Khan added.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry said the incident is a “clear case of Indian state terrorism.”

Media in the two countries also claimed victory in the case.

“India Wins in World Court,” said a Mail Today headline. “Justice in International Court,” declared The Indian Express.

“Pakistan vindicated” ran a banner front-page headline in Pakistan’s Express Tribune.

EU warns of ‘challenging’ timeframe for UK trade deal

Updated 13 December 2019

EU warns of ‘challenging’ timeframe for UK trade deal

  • EU is concerned about the rapid speed with which Johnson would like to strike a trade deal with Europe
  • Johnson has until July 1 to request for a trade talks extension

BRUSSELS: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday warned of the tight timing for securing a trade deal with Britain, hours after Boris Johnson’s Conservatives won a crushing election victory.
“The time frame ahead of us is very challenging,” von der Leyen said, following a discussion by EU leaders on the way forward after Brexit, now expected on January 31.
On the “first of February, we go to work,” she said.
EU Council President Charles Michel warned that the 27 member states would not accept a deal blindly, stressing that the bloc would insist that Britain respect European norms to win the deal.
“There is no question of concluding a deal at any price, said Michel, who coordinates EU summits, after the talks.
“Negotiations are over when the results are balanced and guarantee respect for the different concerns,” the former Belgian premier said.
“We have a way of doing things based on experience, transparency and maintaining unity” in the EU, he added.
EU is worried about the breakneck speed with which Johnson would like to strike a trade deal with Europe and any British effort to undermine the unity among the remaining 27 members.
In a text released after the talks, the 27 EU leaders called for “as close as possible a future relationship with the UK” while warning that it “will have to be based on a balance of rights and obligations and ensure a level playing field.”
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier will direct trade negotiations, which the leaders will follow closely “and provide further guidance as necessary, fully consistent with the EU’s best interest,” conclusions added.
Johnson has until July 1 to ask for a trade talks extension.
If he refuses to extend the negotiation period, a no-deal Brexit will loom at the end of 2020, with Britain in danger of an abrupt cut in trade ties with Europe, endangering its economy.