ISLAMABAD: The PPP has called for halting the execution of a condemned prisoner, Shafqat Hussain, who is said to have been juvenile at the time of committing the crime.
PPP vice president Sherry Rehman said in a statement issued on Saturday that the convict should be given a “fair retrial” as had been promised by the government.
Hussain, who is now 24 years old, is set to be executed on March 19 after an anti-terrorism court issued the death warrant. He was sentenced to death in 2004 for kidnapping and killing a seven-year-old boy in Karachi where he was working as a guard. The murder charge was reduced to ‘involuntary manslaughter’ on appeal, but the terrorism charges against him were not quashed. During interrogation, he confessed to the crime but later withdrew his confession, saying it had been made under duress.
Ms Rehman said the “criminal justice system of our country does not allow the death penalty for juveniles, and rightly so”. “It is imperative that this case goes to trial again.”
The PPP leader said “denying Shafqat the right to be tried under laws meant for trial of juveniles at the time amounts to a denial of fair trial”.
She said that Shafqat had been in jail for over 10 years and had allegedly been tortured multiple times. “His confession as well as his retraction places the whole case under question, and a speedy execution will neither serve justice nor our value system,” she added.
Ms Rehman sought intervention of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar who, she said, had a few months ago in public statements promised an inquiry into the case.
Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2015