ICJ orders Pakistan to review alleged spy's death sentence

UN court orders Pakistan to review death sentence for alleged India spy
3 min read
17 July, 2019
Pakistan must review the death penalty for an alleged Indian spy, a world court has said.
The case has increased tensions between India and Pakistan [Getty]

Pakistan has been ordered to review the death penalty for an alleged Indian spy, by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday.

Former Indian navy officer Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav was arrested in Pakistan's Baluchistan province in March 2016 and accused of working for with separatist rebels there on behalf of New Delhi's intelligence services.

Jadhav was sentenced to death by a closed Pakistani military court in 2017 on charges of "espionage, sabotage and terrorism".

His case has increased tensions between India and Pakistan, with the UN court looking into the matter.

New Delhi has declared the ruling by ICJ as a "complete victory", after the world court posted its decision on its website.

"By ordering Pakistan to follow the Vienna Convention this is a complete victory for us. This opens up the possibility of consular access and a retrial in a civilian court," an Indian government official said.

"If Pakistan wants improved relations it should set him free and give him safe passage back to us."

ICJ judges ruled that Islamabad had breached the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, which gives countries the right to consular access when their nationals are arrested abroad.

It ordered an "effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence" passed on Jadhav.

Pakistan "deprived the Republic of India of the right to communicate with and have access to Mr Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, to visit him in detention and to arrange for his legal representation", the judges said.

"A continued stay of execution constitutes an indispensable condition" for the review of the death sentence, it added.

There was no immediate reaction from Islamabad.

Pakistan's attorney general earlier this year told the court that Jadhav's "unlawful activities were directed at creating anarchy in Pakistan and particularly targeted the China-Pakistan corridor".

China and Pakistan are close allies and Beijing has funded a huge port at Gwadar on the Baluchistan coast.

India insists that Jadhav was not a spy and allege that he was kidnapped in Pakistan, with its lawyer saying it was a "farcical case" based on "malicious propaganda".

The last hearing coincided with a sharp spike in tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours after a suicide bombing in restive Kashmir, although relations have since improved.

The ICJ was set up in 1946 to rule in disputes between countries.

The court has already intervened previously in the case, issuing an urgent order in 2017 telling Pakistan to stay Jadhav's execution while it dealt with the issue in more detail.

India claimed that Pakistan violated the Vienna Convention by failing to provide him with consular access, as well as breaking human rights law.

New Delhi also accused Pakistan of harassing Jadhav's family in 2017 during a meeting that was held in an "atmosphere of coercion".

It said Jadhav's conversation with his mother and wife was "tutored and designed to perpetuate the false narrative of his alleged activities in Pakistan".