Thu, Oct 19, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Pakistan to execute Briton during royal couple's visit


Pakistan is due to hang a British national on Nov. 1, coinciding with a planned visit by Britain's Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, officials said yesterday.

Mirza Tahir Hussain, 36, from Leeds in northern England, has spent half his life in a Pakistani jail fighting a death sentence for killing a taxi driver.

The decision on his fate follows three stays of execution ordered by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and comes despite a vocal campaign by Hussain's family to save his life.

"Mirza Tahir Hussain's new execution date is Nov. 1," an official at Adiala Prison in Rawalpindi, a garrison city adjoining the capital Islamabad, told reporters on condition of anonymity.

"The third extension given to him by the president was until Oct. 1. Before that the jail authorities wrote a letter to the court seeking orders to hang the convict on expiry of the stay," the official added.

"The court issued an order last week fixing the execution on Nov. 1, as there are no executions in Ramadan [the Muslim holy month]," he said.

A spokesman for the British High Commission [embassy] in Islamabad confirmed that Pakistani authorities had given them notice of the new execution date.

An unnamed aide to Musharraf was quoted by the Daily Telegraph newspaper in London as dismissing suggestions by Hussain's family that the Pakistani president, a key Western ally, could pardon him.

Prince Charles and his wife are due to visit Pakistan amid high security from Oct. 29 to Nov. 3. They are scheduled to meet with Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.

It will be their first trip to the South Asian country as a couple.

Dual British-Pakistani national Hussain was 18 when he traveled to Pakistan in 1988 to visit relatives and was arrested shortly after his arrival for killing a taxi driver.

Hussain told police that the driver tried to sexually assault him and that he killed him in self-defense, but he was convicted in 1989.

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