India

Sarabjit Singh: Indian 'spy' dies after Pakistan attack

Indian school children hold photographs of Sarabjit Singh, an Indian spy on death row in Pakistan as they light candles and pray for his recovery in Amritsar, India, on 29 April 2013
Image caption Sarabjit Singh's situation had long been a thorn in Indian-Pakistani relations, and Indian children prayed for his recovery on Monday

An Indian man convicted of spying by a court in Pakistan has died after being attacked last week by fellow inmates, medical officials and his lawyer said.

Sarabjit Singh, was attacked with bricks by prisoners in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail on Friday.

He fell into a coma and died at 01:00 on Thursday morning (20:00 Wednesday GMT) in Lahore's Jinnah hospital.

Indian PM Manmohan Singh's office said the perpetrators should be brought to justice for the "barbaric" attack.

Singh was sentenced to death for spying and his role in bomb attacks that killed 14 people in Pakistan in 1990.

His family, who had only just returned to India after visiting him in hospital, always insisted Singh was innocent and had strayed into Pakistan by mistake when he was arrested.

But mercy petitions were rejected by Pakistani courts and former President Pervez Musharraf.

India had appealed for Singh, 49, to be released or transferred to India over concerns about his treatment following his attack. He had sustained several serious injuries, including a fractured skull.

In a tweet, Manmohan Singh's office wrote: "Particularly regrettable that the Govt of Pakistan did not heed the pleas.... to take a humanitarian view of this case".

Indian Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said Delhi was negotiating with Islamabad about the repatriation of the body.

Sarabjit Singh's lawyer Owais Sheikh earlier said his client's death was "feared", according to the AFP news agency.

Image caption Sarabjit Singh's family returned to India on Wednesday after visiting him in hospital

"His condition was more than critical and he had less chances of survival," the doctor added.

A doctor told AFP arrangements were under way for an autopsy.

The issue risks stirring fresh tensions in relations between nuclear-armed neighbours - and long-time rivals - India and Pakistan, correspondents say.

Strains had already increased in the past six months with the execution in India of Kashmiri Afzul Guru over the 2001 attack on India's parliament, and of Mohammed Ajmal Qasab, a Pakistani who was the sole surviving perpetrator of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Mr Sheikh said his client had received threats after Guru's execution.

Sarabjit Singh was reportedly attacked on Friday as he and other prisoners were brought out of their cells for a one-hour break.

Two inmates were charged with attempted murder and two officials suspended.

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