Two murderers hanged in Mirpur, AJK

Updated February 13, 2015

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.—Reuters/File
.—Reuters/File

MUZAFFARABAD: Two death row prisoners have been executed in the Central Jail Mirpur, Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Security in and around the prison was beefed where a large number of relatives of the condemned prisoners had turned up.

The bodies of the convicts were handed over to their respective families after the execution.

Muhammad Riaz, son of Zafar Ali, and Mohammad Fayaz, son of Muhammad Sharif were sentenced to death for killing the son of Fazal Rabbani, the Advocate General of Azad Kashmir, in 2004 during a robbery at his home in Mirpur.

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Both the convicts were residents of a village near Sara-i-Alamgir, in Gujrat district and had been apprehended a few days after the crime was committed.

The two were initially sentenced to ten years imprisonment and a fine was imposed, but the victims family pursued the matter in the AJK Shariat Court which enhanced the punishment to death penalty in November 2005.

The appeals of the prisoners, challenging their punishment, were rejected by the Azad Kashmir Supreme Court in June 2006.

AJK's then president Raja Zulqarnain Khan had rejected in October 2010 the mercy appeals filed by convicts.

Later in May 2011, AJK's apex court turned down the petitions filed by the prisoners challenging the rejection of their mercy pleas.

The black warrants of the condemned prisoners were initially issued in December 2012 following which AJK President Sardar Yaqoob Khan had given the convicts a 10-day reprieve so that they could attempt to strike a deal with the family of the deceased.

In January 2013, black warrants were issued for the second time, but the executions were again held in abeyance by acting President Sardar Ghulam Sadiq, citing the moratorium on capital punishment in Pakistan.

It was only after the lifting of the moratorium late last year that the jail authorities geared themselves up for the executions.

The two convicts held the last meeting with their respective families, prior to the executions.

Inspector General Prisons Azad jammu and Kashmir Abdul Hameed Mughal told Dawn that, "At the moment there are 70 death row prisoners in AJK who have been condemned by trial courts who have either filed their mercy pleas with the president or have their appeals pending in superior courts."

In addition the trial of 11 prisoners, charged under the Explosive Act and penal code, is underway in trial courts.

According to the Jail Superintendent Irshad Hussain Jaral, the last time anyone was hanged in the prison was a decade back in 2005.

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Pakistan had announced the removal of moratorium on death penalty, which had been imposed in the country since six years.

The lifting of the moratorium had followed the carnage in Peshawar's Army Public School during which at least 141 people had lost their lives.

Pakistan has executed 22 convicts so far, since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lifted a the death penalty moratorium. All 22 criminals had been convicted under anti-terrorism laws.