Wed, Jun 10, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Pakistan hanging stayed again, family voices relief


Relatives of a Pakistani convict being held on death row yesterday said that they “felt a wave of life” when his execution was halted to examine claims that he was a juvenile when the crime was committed.

The reprieve for Shafqat Hussain, sentenced to hang in the 2004 killing of a seven-year-old boy in Karachi, came just hours before he was to face the gallows at dawn.

It was his fourth stay of execution in five months in a case that has prompted grave concern among international rights campaigners and the UN.

Hussain’s lawyers and family say he was under 18 at the time of the death and therefore is not eligible for execution under Pakistani law.

They also say he was tortured into confessing.

His brother Manzoor Hussain said relatives gathered in Muzaffarabad, the main town of Pakistani Kashmir where the family lives, to keep a vigil during the night of the expected hanging.

“When we were informed at 3am that he has survived; we felt a wave of life inside us,” he told reporters. “We were not expecting this; we had even found a place for his grave in a local cemetery here in Muzaffarabad.”

Hussain’s elderly mother, Makhni Begum, said she had faith that God would spare her son.

“My heart says that my son is innocent. We spent the whole night awake. We received a call at the last moment to say the execution has been postponed,” she told reporters in Muzaffarabad. “I bowed to God after this phone call. Now my heart is satisfied that if he is surviving like this, God will save his life.”

Sindh Province Inspector General of Prisons Nusrat Mangan confirmed early yesterday that the hanging — first scheduled for January — had been postponed.

The Supreme Court is to examine the questions on Hussain’s age, which his supporters have put at 14 or 15 at the time of the slaying.

The court arranged a detailed hearing for today, a member of Hussain’s legal team told reporters.

The Hussain case has drawn particular concern, with a panel of UN rights experts calling on Friday for his hanging to be halted.

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