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Wednesday, March 18, 2015, Chaitra 4, 1421 BS, Jamadi ul Awwal 26, 1436 Hijr


Pakistan hangs nine as death row convict's brother tells of torture
Observer Online Desk
Published : Wednesday, 18 March, 2015,  Time : 2:27 PM,  View Count : 22
Islamabad : Pakistan hanged nine death row convicts on Wednesday, media said, as the brother of a man charged as a child with murder and due to be hanged this week told of his months of torture at age 14 to extract a confession.

Wednesday's hangings bring the number of executions in the past two days to 21, and to 48 since an unofficial moratorium on capital punishment was lifted in December. Twelve were executed on Tuesday, reports Reuters.

However, the Interior Ministry said it did not know the exact number of planned executions.

"The ministry does not have consolidated data after the lifting of the moratorium as new cases include all types, including terrorism," a spokesman said in a text message.

The death sentence cannot be used against a defendant under the age of 18 when the crime was committed. Testimony obtained by torture is also inadmissible.

Yet lawyers for Shafqat Hussain say he was just 14 in 2004 when he was tortured into confessing to the killing of a child. He is due to be hanged on Thursday.

"He was burnt by cigarettes, subjected to electric shocks," his brother, Manzoor, told Reuters. "Police kept a 14-year-old boy in custody for four months and 14 days (before extracting a statement). No one can imagine what he must have gone through.

"And we are going through this ordeal because we are poor. If Shafqat had a name like Sharif or Zardari, he would be roaming freely."

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lifted the moratorium on Dec. 17, a day after Pakistani Taliban gunmen attacked a school and killed 134 pupils and 19 adults. The killings put pressure on the government to do more to tackle the Islamist insurgency.

Fatima Bhutto, the niece of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, has taken up Shafqat Hussain's cause.

"There was no moment of reflection, no introspection, only a knee-jerk call for vengeance," Fatima Bhutto said in the New York Times of the lifting of the moratorium. "In Pakistan, blood will always have blood."

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had promised an investigation into Shafqat Hussain's age, but his lawyers say neither they nor the family were contacted.

"We are going to the Ministry of Interior again today," Shahab Siddiqui, from Justice Project Pakistan, the legal aid group representing Shafqat Hussain, told Reuters.

"We are bringing evidence (including a birth certificate) and want to ask what else do they need."









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