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Kulbhushan Jadhav: Pakistan told to review ‘India spy’ case

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Friends of Kulbhushan Jadhav celebrated as they heard the verdict in Mumbai

An international court has ordered Pakistan to review the death penalty given to a retired Indian Navy officer whom it has accused of spying.

Pakistan has violated international law by denying India consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled.

The rulings of the ICJ are binding but it has no power to enforce them.

Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested in Pakistan in March 2016, and sentenced to death the following year.

Pakistan, the court ruled, had failed to inform Mr Jadhav of his rights, and “deprived the Republic of India of the right to communicate with and have access to [him], to visit him in detention and to arrange for his legal representation”.

“A continued stay of execution constitutes an indispensible condition for the effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Mr Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav,” it added.

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The verdict was delivered at the ICJ in the Hague

An Indian government told AFP the ruling was “a complete victory”, adding: “This opens up the possibility of consular access and a retrial in a civilian court.”

Wednesday’s verdict is likely to fuel tensions between the nuclear powers.

India and Pakistan were on the brink of war in February over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

The neighbours have a long history of diplomatic spats and Delhi and Islamabad often accuse each other of sending spies into their territories.

What are the allegations?

The case of Kulbhushan Jadhav has been a thorny issue since his arrest three years ago.

Pakistan said it had detained him in the restive province of Balochistan, home to a separatist insurgency that it accuses India of backing. India said he was kidnapped in Iran, which borders the province, where he was doing business.

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Pakistan foreign ministry

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Kulbushan Jadhav’s mother and wife were allowed to meet him in December 2017

Shortly after his arrest, the Pakistani authorities released a video in which he was shown admitting involvement in spying.

India has always questioned the alleged confession, saying that it was extracted under duress.

In April 2017, Pakistan said he had been convicted in a military court of espionage and terrorism and sentenced to death. India then filed a case with the ICJ, which ordered Pakistan not to execute him until the case was heard and a decision reached.

More on this story:

While India said that Pakistan violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by denying access to Mr Jadhav, Pakistan argued he was not entitled to consular access because he is a spy who illegally entered the country in order to create “unrest and instability”.

The ICJ was set up in 1945 to rule on disputes between nations in accordance with international law.

The last time India and Pakistan took a dispute to the court was in 1999 when Islamabad protested against India’s downing of a Pakistani navy plane that killed 16 people.

The court decided that it had no jurisdiction to rule in the dispute and closed the case.

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