India on Monday (15) appealed to the UN’s top court to order Pakistan to suspend its planned execution of an Indian national convicted of spying.
In an emergency hearing, lawyers for New Delhi urged the International Court of Justice to halt the execution of Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav.
Jadhav was arrested in the southwestern province of Balochistan last year and Pakistani officials claim he has confessed to spying for Indian intelligence services.
But India has denied he was a spy, and last week lodged a protest at the ICJ in The Hague accusing Pakistan of “egregious violations of the Vienna convention”.
Jadhav was “an innocent Indian national, who, incarcerated in Pakistan for more than a year on concocted charges, deprived of his rights and protection accorded under the Vienna Convention, has been held incommunicado… and faces imminent execution,” Indian lawyer Deepak Mittal told the tribunal Monday.
Pakistan has failed to respond to all Indian demands for information about the case, snubbing requests for documents including the charge sheet, and has not provided Jadhav with consular access, he said.
Islamabad has also not replied to a visa application by Jadhav’s parents seeking to travel to Pakistan to visit their son.
“All that we know is what we have seen in the media in Pakistan,” Mittal told the tribunal at the start of the day-long hearing.
“India believes that the farcical nature of the proceedings and unjust trial by a Pakistan military court… has led to a serious miscarriage of justice.”
Jadhav “has been denied the right to be defended by a legal counsel of his choice,” he added.
India is seeking the immediate suspension of the death sentence against Jadhav who it claims was ‘kidnapped from Iran, where he was carrying on business after retiring from the Indian Navy’,” according to court documents.
New Delhi ultimately wants the tribunal to order Islamabad to annul the sentence.
It also wants the ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule on disputes between nations in accordance with international law, to declare that the Pakistani military court violated the Vienna Convention by imposing a death sentence on Jadhav and broke human rights laws.
Pakistan will present its arguments to the afternoon session.
Nuclear archrivals India and Pakistan routinely accuse one another 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.
But death sentences have rarely been issued in recent years.