Mentally ill prisoner Khizar Hayat passes away after spending 16 years on death row

Updated March 22, 2019

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A former police constable, Khizar Hayat had been hospitalised after he refused food and medication; he passed away on the night of March 21. — Dawn archives
A former police constable, Khizar Hayat had been hospitalised after he refused food and medication; he passed away on the night of March 21. — Dawn archives

Khizar Hayat, a mentally ill prisoner who spent the last 16 years of his life on death row, passed away on the night of March 21, the Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) announced on Friday.

According to a JPP press release, 56-year-old Hayat passed away at Jinnah Hospital Lahore, where he was admitted after he stopped taking food and medication.

The jail authorities reported him to be “severely anaemic and hypotensive”. He was fitted with a feeding tube by the doctors, but his condition kept deteriorating and he fell unconscious during his final hours.

He is survived by four children and his mother.

Read: Schizophrenic and on death row: The tragic case of ex-cop Khizar Hayat

Two months ago, former chief justice Saqib Nisar had suspended Hayat's fourth execution warrant on January 14.

A two-member bench then referred Khizar’s case to a larger bench of the Supreme Court, which has taken up the cases of two other schizophrenic death row prisoners, Imdad Ali and Kanizan Bibi.

According to the JPP, Khizar was first diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia by jail authorities in 2008. His mental health record consistently referred to his delusions, psychosis, and his mental illness, and showed that he has been prescribed powerful anti-psychotic medication. The conditions of his incarceration made his mental illness progressively worse.

"Khizar spent the last six years alone in his cell in the jail hospital, effectively living in solitary confinement" which caused him to lose all awareness of his surroundings and he did not know where he was, the JPP statement said.

JPP Executive Director Sarah Belal was quoted as saying: “It is immensely tragic that Khizar Hayat left the world waiting for justice, having remained deprived of any adequate care for too long. Khizar’s case is a shocking example of why mentally ill prisoners do not deserve the death penalty. They require proper attention and belong at mental health facilities, not strung up on the gallows in horrid confinements of the jails.”

Hayat's story

Hayat, a former police constable, was convicted in October 2001 for killing a fellow policeman, while a trial court had handed him a death sentence two years later.

In 2010, the jail medical officer recommended that Hayat needed specialised treatment and should be shifted to a psychiatric facility. However, this was never done. In 2017, the Lahore High Court (LHC) had stayed the execution of Hayat, but rejected his mother's appeal for a stay in December 2018.

A district and sessions court in Lahore subsequently fixed Hayat's execution for January 15, 2019, before it was suspended by the SC.

Black warrants for Hayat had been issued thrice previously — in all instances his execution was stayed.