The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered Pakistan to review and reconsider a death sentence handed down to a former Indian Navy officer convicted of spying.
In a ruling Wednesday, the United Nations’ top court found Pakistan authorities broke international law by not informing Kulbhushan Jadhav of his rights and depriving the Indian government of consular access.
Pakistan breached the Vienna Convention by denying India “the right to communicate with and have access to (Jadhav), to visit him in detention and to arrange for his legal representation,” the ruling stated.
Jadhav was arrested in Pakistan in March 2016 and accused of being an Indian spy. Pakistan authorities claimed they detained him in the restive Balochistan province, which is home to a separatist insurgency that Pakistan accuses India of backing.
The charges leveled against Jadhav included “espionage and sabotage activities against Pakistan” and he was sentenced to death by a Pakistan military court in April 2017.
India denies that Jadhav is a spy and say he was kidnapped in Iran while visiting for business.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said he welcomed the verdict. “Truth and justice have prevailed. Congratulations to the ICJ for a verdict based on extensive study of facts. I am sure Kulbhushan Jadhav will get justice,” he said in a tweet.
Union Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said the verdict was a “big victory for India” and a win for Modi’s “diplomatic initiative.”
“The ICJ directing Pakistan to grant consular access to Jadhav and asking them to review the conviction and the sentence is a welcome decision,” he posted on Twitter.
Pakistan also sees the ruling as a win, citing the court’s decision not to order Jadhav’s acquittal or release.
“Appreciate ICJ’s decision not to acquit, release and return Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav to India. He is guilty of crimes against the people of Pakistan. Pakistan shall proceed further as per law,” said Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in a tweet on Thursday.
A press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office said that Jadhav entered Pakistan without a visa “with a fake alias Hussain Mubarak Patel.” The statement said that Jadhav “is responsible for acts of sabotage, espionage and multiple terrorist incidents.”
“This is a clear case of Indian state terrorism,” it read.
The Foreign Ministry also said Jadhav confessed during his trial.
Shortly after his arrest a video was released purportedly showing Jadhav accepting responsibility to the charges. India has maintained that the recording was made under duress.
The statement said Pakistan “upheld its commitment from the very beginning of the case” and having heard the judgment “will proceed as per law.”
Based in The Hague, the 15 judges of the ICJ are tasked in part with settling legal disputes between states. The cases must be submitted by at least one of the state’s involved and while its rulings are final and binding the court doesn’t have power to enforce its decisions.