Death sentences for many Indian fugitives hang in balance as EU supports abolition of death penalty
The issues of the execution of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar and charging Abu Salem, a close associate of international fugitive Dawood Ibrahim, under clauses demanding death sentence are set to create a diplomatic row between India and Europe. The European Union, on Monday, declared abolition of the death penalty the world over as one of their human rights and foreign policy objectives to mark 10 October as the World and European Day against the Death Penalty.
In a joint declaration by Catherine Ashton, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, reaffirmed united opposition to the death penalty, and committed to work for its worldwide abolition.
“We consider capital punishment to be inhumane, and a violation of human dignity. Experience in Europe has taught us that the death penalty does not prevent an increase in violent crime, and nor does it bring justice to the victims of such crimes. Any capital punishment resulting from a miscarriage of justice, from which no legal system can be immune, represents irreversible loss of human life,” said the declaration.
Earlier, in a letter to the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, Ashton had made it clear that the grouping opposes death sentence pronounced to Prof. Devender Pal Singh Bhullar, a Khalistani militant. Bhullar is facing the gallows after President Pratibha Patil rejected his petition of mercy.
Bhullar was deported from Germany on 18 January, 1995, after his application seeking political asylum was rejected by German authorities. The decision to deport him was declared illegal by a Frankfurt court two years later. Bhullar was then arrested by Delhi Police at the airport on charges of falsification of documents. However, he was later handed over to the Punjab Police, who booked him under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, for engineering bomb blasts at the Youth Congress office in Delhi and elsewhere in Punjab.
Outgoing German ambassador to India Thomas Matussek believed that Germany wouldn’t have deported him, knowing the fate of his case. He said Bhullar’s deportation came as he had not disclosed full fact before German authorities and the court there. “Unfortunately for him and for us, he presented a forged passport and gave totally wrong story. When that was put to court it was clear there was no basis for his asylum and court ruled he could be deported,” he said. “Later on, a real story came out. He hadn’t told us,” the ambassador added. Matussek made it clear that in a similar case in future, the person would not be deported. If this case comes up in Germany now and he tells the full story, we will not deport him,” he maintained.
In the case of Abu Salem, the Portugal High Court has cancelled the extradition order of 2005 under which the gangster was handed to Indian authorities and was brought to India. The High Court had cancelled the extradition order on grounds that the terms and conditions of extradition were violated by Indian authorities.
As per the extradition order, he shall not be given the death sentence and not be put to trial for the offences other than mentioned in the extradition order and not be given a sentence of 25 years. The CBI has already filed an appeal at the Supreme Court in Lisbon, contending that India has strictly adhered to the terms and conditions of the extradition order.
The declaration also called for full implementation of a recent UN resolution, which called for global moratorium on the use of the death penalty, with a view to its complete abolition. The EU is also the first regional body to have adopted rules prohibiting the trade in goods used for capital punishment (and torture and ill-treatment), as well as the supply of technical assistance related to such goods. The EU’s political commitment has been matched by substantial financial support for concrete projects.
Iftikhar Gilani is Special Correspondent with Tehelka.com.
accessed on 10th October 2011
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