KARACHI: An antiterrorism court issued on Monday a fresh black warrant for the execution of a condemned prisoner and asked the jail authorities to send him to the gallows on June 9.

Shafqat Hussain was sentenced to death by an ATC in September 2004 as he was found guilty of killing a seven-year-old boy after kidnapping him for ransom from an apartment in New Town, where he worked as a security guard, in April 2004.

The Sindh High Court had upheld the death sentence for kidnapping for ransom and set aside the conviction for premeditated murder, and converted it into unintentional murder.

The Supreme Court dismissed his appeal in October 2007 while the review petition was also turned down by the SC in December 2007. The president dismissed his mercy petition in July 2012.

The trial court had issued the last death warrant against him on April 24 and asked the jail officials to hang him till death in the early hours of May 6.

However, the jail superintendent through a letter informed the trial court that the last warrant was suspended by the Islamabad High Court through an interim order but the suspension order was later vacated.

Therefore, the jailer asked the court to issue a fresh black warrant for the hanging of the death row prisoner.

Judge Saleem Raza Baloch of the ATC-III issued a black warrant and asked the superintendent of the Karachi central prison to hang the condemned prisoner till death on June 9 at 4:30am as per the jail manual. The court also asked the jail authorities to carry out the execution under the supervision of a judicial magistrate after fulfilling all legal requirements and return the death warrant with endorsement certifying that the sentence had been executed.

The condemned prisoner has been dodging death since 2012 as implementation of black warrants, repeatedly issued by the trial court, were stayed because the Pakistan Peoples Party government had placed a moratorium on execution after coming into power in 2008.

But in the wake of the terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, the Pakistan Muslim League-N government lifted the moratorium in December last year.

Thus the condemned prisoner moved the SHC against his possible hanging by raising the issue of his juvenility. However, the SHC dismissed his petition as not being maintainable.

Thereafter, some non-governmental organisations and the media raised their voice against his possible hanging contending that he was 14 years old when he committed the crime.

On March 24, the presidency stayed the execution of the condemned prisoner for 30 days to determine whether he was a juvenile when he committed the crime.

The Federal Investigation Agency was asked to investigate the matter and a three-member inquiry team of the FIA found the condemned prisoner around 23 years old at the time of committing the crime.

The prosecution said Shafqat Hussain was a watchman of Nadeem Arcade and he kidnapped Umair, the son of a car dealer, when the latter came downstairs from his second-floor apartment. The accused took the boy to his room and hit him in the head with a club when he insisted on leaving and the boy died instantly and he dumped the body in a nearby drain, it added. He demanded a ransom from the victim’s father from different public call offices to deliver the ransom, though he himself never turned up, the prosecution said, adding that finally he asked the victim’s father to place the money under a wooden box lying inside the compound of Nadeem Arcade.

The move led to his arrest as the police said the box belonged to the watchman, the prosecution concluded.

Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2015

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