Paraplegic convict’s execution put on hold again in Pakistan

Islamabad, Nov 25 (IANS) A wheelchair-bound murderer has been given a fourth extension of life – his execution has been put on hold just hours before he was due to be hanged in Pakistan, the media reported on Wednesday.

Abdul Basit, a paraplegic, who was convicted of murder in 2009, was scheduled to be taken to the gallows earlier on Wednesday in Islamabad.

His execution had already been postponed three times earlier after human rights groups raised concerns about how the disabled man would mount the scaffold.

On Tuesday evening, the Pakistani presidency issued a statement that the execution would be delayed so that President Mamnoon Hussain could order an inquiry into Basit’s medical condition.

In a statement, the president vowed that Basit’s human rights would be upheld.

On hearing the news, Basit’s mother Nusrat Parveen said, “We are very happy to hear the TV news that (the) president of Pakistan has stayed the execution.”

“We also got confirmation from a jail staff,” she told media, adding that the family hoped the suspension of the execution would be extended beyond two months.

Pakistan has executed 299 people since the death penalty was controversially reinstated following a Taliban attack at an army public school in Peshawar last December, according to the Amnesty International.

“Pakistan will imminently have executed 300 people since it lifted a moratorium on executions, shamefully sealing its place among the world’s worst executioners,” the organisation said in a statement.

Forty-five people were executed in October alone, the group said, making it the deadliest month since the moratorium was lifted. However, no official figures were available.

Pakistan ended a six-year moratorium on the death penalty last year as part of a crackdown on terror after Taliban militants gunned down more than 150 people, most of them children, at an army-run public school in Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Hangings were initially reinstated only for those convicted of terrorism, but in March they were extended to all capital offences.

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