Pak Finally Hangs Shafqat Hussain

KARACHI:  Kashmir born Shafqat Hussain was hanged early Tuesday morning in Karachi Central Jail. The case triggered an international out-cry because his lawyers said Shafqat was arrested as a ju-venile and tortured into confessing to murder.

“Shafqat Hussain was this morning executed in Pakistan, de-spite widespread calls, both within and outside the country, for a stay,” legal aid group Justice Project Pakistan, which was representing Hussain, said in a statement.

Pakistani law does not allow the execution of someone arrested as a juvenile. State prosecutors said Hussain was an adult working as a watchman when he was arrested.

Lawyers for Hussain said school records showed he was 17 in 2004 when he was burnt with cigarettes and had fingernails removed until he confessed to killing a child.

His family have said he was 14; lawyers said the family did not keep records regarding Hussain’s birth.

David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s South Asia research director, said the execution marked a “deeply sad day for Pa-kistan”.

“A man whose age remains disputed and whose conviction was built around torture has now paid with his life,” he said.

Human rights groups say many convictions in Pakistan are un-reliable.

Lawyers say the justice system is deeply flawed and few police are trained to conduct investigations.

Defense lawyers, appointed by courts for those too poor to pay, often do not show up and accusations of confessions extracted through torture are common.

Hussain’s family says that is what happened to him.

“There are cigarette burns on his shoulder,” his brother Man-zoor told Reuters the day before Hussain was hanged. “They also burnt his ankles with a heated rod. Those scars are still there.”

Their mother said the family was too poor to pay the 30,000 rupees a private lawyer demanded to fight the case.

She could only afford one trip to visit her son, she said, and did not see him before he died.

While the moratorium on capital punishment was lifted in re-sponse to an terrorist attack, a Reuters investigation found that few of those executed had links to militancy.

AJK president urged President Mamnoon Hussain late on Monday to postpone the execution to allow further inquiries, but the hanging went ahead as planned.

Shafqat, the youngest of seven children, was working as a watchman in Karachi in 2004 when the seven-year-old boy went missing from the neighbourhood.

Pix: Shafqat Hussain’s parents

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