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For immediate release: Wed Sept 30, 2015
Paraplegic set to hang in Pakistan appeals to President for mercy
A paraplegic – whose execution was stayed after he had been dressed in black, had his hands and feet tied, and was about to be lifted onto the gallows – has appealed to Pakistan’s President for mercy, in a petition filed yesterday (Tuesday).
Abdul Basit, who has been paralyzed from the waist down since contracting meningitis in jail and receiving inadequate treatment, was due to be hanged last week. Basit’s family told his lawyers at Justice Project Pakistan that on the day of his planned execution, Abdul was made to change into black clothes and had his hands and feet tied. He was about to be mounted onto the scaffold when prison officials announced that the execution would be stopped. After several hours of waiting it was confirmed that Basit’s hanging would not proceed that night.
Basit’s family, acting through his lawyers, yesterday filed a petition for mercy to the Pakistani President asking that his execution be permanently halted because Pakistan’s Prison Rules do not provide for the hanging of people unable to stand. This leaves Basit open to the possibility of a botched execution, resulting in prolonged suffering, and violating both the prison rules and the country’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. They also referred to the last minute stay, citing the agony of waiting for Basit to be hanged, and the hope engendered by the decision of the jail authorities.
A recent jail medical report confirmed that Basit is “bed-bound” with “almost no chance of recovery.” Speaking to Basit’s lawyers at JPP last week, his mother pleaded with the President to grant her son mercy: “My son has already suffered a lot. He is half dead. It was all because of the jail authorities that he is disabled today. I appeal to Pakistan’s President for mercy.
“I am not educated but I know and I am sure this is not what Islam teaches – this is not what the law tells. Can’t they see that he has suffered for years? Who says that this is justice? How can they do this to a paralyzed man? Please have mercy on my son.” [emphasis added]
Commenting, Kate Higham, caseworker at Reprieve, said: “It is almost unimaginable that someone would be looking up at the hangman’s noose, about to be mounted on the gallows, before being told that they are in fact not set to die. Basit’s hanging would not only violate basic standards of decency but Pakistan’s obligations under international law. Basit’s execution must be stopped.”
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