KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: The execution of Shafqat Hussain has been postponed for 72 hours just a few hours before his hanging was scheduled to take place on Thursday morning.
Hussain was dressed in a white uniform, ready for hanging, and had been told to write his will before the execution was postponed, his family said.
Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon confirmed that Shafqat Hussain's execution will be stayed for three days.
According to a human rights group Reprieve, an inquiry will be conducted into his age at the time of conviction and the torture he suffered before ‘confessing’ to the crime.
Earlier a senior Sindh government official, while speaking on condition of anonymity, had told Dawn.com that "provincial government has so far not received any orders from the president regarding the stay on hanging of Shafqat Hussain".
However, local media on Wednesday night reported that the president has ordered to postpone the hanging of Shafqat Hussain — who was charged with committing a murder at the age of 14.
According to local media, citing various sources, the hanging of Shafqat has been postponed for an indefinite period on the directives of President Mamnoon Hussain, who was acting on the proposal of Ministry of Interior.
According to earlier confirmed reports, the convict is set to be hanged on Thursday morning after the Sindh High Court threw out a petition seeking suspension of his fresh execution order.
Earlier, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) had issued a death warrant for the execution of Shafqat Hussain. Shafqat was arrested and sentenced to death in 2004 for kidnapping and killing a seven-year-old boy from an apartment building in Karachi where he was working as a guard.
Interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Tuesday said the Sindh government had turned down his proposal to conduct a DNA test of condemned prisoner Shafqat Hussain to determine his age.
Hussain's case has triggered outrage from rights campaigners, who complain he did not get a fair trial and was only 15 at the time of the killing.
The interior minister’s statement came amid protest by civil society and human rights organisations demanding suspension of Shafqat’s execution on the grounds that he was underage and Chaudhary Nisar himself had promised to get a DNA test conducted to resolve the issue.
Hussain's mother Makhni Begum, who last saw Hussain in jail in 2005, insisted he was innocent in an emotional interview with AFP in Kashmir, where the family is from.
Shafqat's mother said the police had noted his age as 23 years old and since he had no ID documents, neither the court nor his defense lawyer ever challenged that.
“Shafqat, too scared and suffering from a learning disability, did not find it in himself to disagree with anything that the police had told him to say, for fear of being tortured again,” she said.