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India, Pakistan clash at ICJ over death penalty for alleged spy

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The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Monday began hearing the case of an Indian ex-naval officer recently sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage.

India appealed to the Hague-based court recently over the Pakistani decision to hang Kulbhushan Jadhav, after which Islamabad was asked to halt the execution.

India said the sentence should be cancelled by Pakistan, and if not, it should be declared illegal under international law.

ICJ president Ronny Abraham said both sides would get 90 minutes to make their arguments in the day-long hearing.

Report says the court is expected to make a provisional judgement before the case is finally decided.

India, represented by senior lawyer Harish Salve, argued that Pakistan violated the Vienna Convention by not informing India of Jadhav’s detention and repeatedly denying consular access to him.

“Islamabad is expected to argue that the ICJ has no jurisdiction in the case as Jadhav’s alleged activities fall under the remit of national security,’’ Pakistani media reports have said.

A Pakistani army court sentenced Jadhav to the gallows in April for spying and fomenting unrest in the province of Balochistan.

India, which has denied that Jadhav is a spy, said he was abducted by Pakistani security agencies from Iran, where he was running a business after retiring from the navy.

The sentencing has aggravated tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours amid attacks by Islamist militants in India-administered Kashmir, who New Delhi says are backed by Pakistan.

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