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ICJ Hears Case Of Indian Ex-Naval Officer Sentenced To Death

Friends of Kulbhushan Jadhav hold a photograph of them with Jadhav in the neighborhood where he grew up in Mumbai in May 18, 2017.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has begun a hearing over the fate of an Indian citizen sentenced to death in Pakistan.

Deepak Mittal, joint secretary at India's External Affairs Ministry, told the court in The Hague on February 18 that the proceedings against former naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav were based on a "farcical case" and "malicious propaganda."

A lawyer representing India, Harish Salve, told the judges that Jadhav's trial should be declared “unlawful” because it "hopelessly failed to satisfy even the minimum standards of due process."

Pakistan, which is due to respond on February 19, has previously rejected such allegations.

The hearing is due to last four days, but no date was set for the verdict.

Pakistani authorities say Jadhav, now 48, was arrested in March 2016 in the southwestern province of Balochistan, which has been plagued by sectarian violence, Islamist militant attacks, and a separatist insurgency that has led to thousands of casualties since 2004.

A military court in Pakistan sentenced the man to death in April 2017 on charges of espionage.

New Delhi maintains Jadhav is innocent, and it won an injunction from the ICJ to stay Jadhav's execution, arguing he was denied diplomatic assistance during his trial.

The ICJ hearing comes amid growing tensions between India and Pakistan after dozens of Indian paramilitary troops and army soldiers were recently killed in the disputed Kashmir region.

Based on reporting by dpa and AFP