x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

India's top court frees 82-year-old Pakistani after 20 years' jail

India's top court has reversed the murder conviction against an 82-year-old Pakistani who spent 20 years in jail, allowing him to return home.

NEW DELHI // India's top court yesterday reversed the murder conviction against an 82-year-old Pakistani who spent 20 years in jail, allowing him to return home.

Khalil Chisti, a microbiologist, was arrested and charged with murder in 1992 after a brawl in Ajmer which he was visiting for a family wedding. He was convicted in 2010 by a city court and given a life sentence.

After freeing him on bail last year on account of his age, the Supreme Court quashed the murder charge but upheld a conviction for voluntarily causing hurt, the Press Trust of India reported.

"Truth has prevailed in the end," Chisti said after the verdict. Authorities were ordered to return his passport. "I will be going to my country after an endless wait."

Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, had raised Chisti's case during his meeting with the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, this year.

The court's decision is a further boost to so-called "confidence-building measures" between the two countries and comes a day ahead of a visit to India by Pakistan's home minister, Rehman Malik.

Relations between the nuclear-armed countries, which have fought three wars since independence, have warmed over the past 18 months as they have focused on increasing trade and getting slow-moving peace negotiations back on track.

At least 250 Pakistani nationals are being held in Indian jails, some for almost half a century.

Last year, both countries released a number of prisoners as a "goodwill gesture".