Saturday 1 October 2016

Paraplegic murderer faces the gallows in Pakistan

James Rothwell in Islamabad

Published 21/08/2015 | 02:30

A warrant was issued for his execution on July 29, but appeals from Basit's legal team led to a stay of execution.
A warrant was issued for his execution on July 29, but appeals from Basit's legal team led to a stay of execution.

A PARAPLEGIC man is facing the prospect of being hanged by prison officials in Pakistan from his wheelchair as he is unable to mount the scaffold.

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Abdul Basit (43) was convicted of murder in 2009 but developed tuberculosis a year later, leaving him paralysed from the waist down.

A warrant was issued for his execution on July 29, but appeals from Basit's legal team led to a stay of execution.

They now await a final hearing on Tuesday, which will decide whether the hanging will go ahead.

It means that prison officials are grappling with the conundrum of how much rope is required to hang a man who cannot support his own body weight.

Basit's lawyers at Justice Project Pakistan have issued an urgent mercy appeal to Pakistan's president, Mamnoon Hussain, claiming that hanging a wheelchair-bound person would be in breach of its own prison regulations.

Appalling

"Given that the condemned prisoner is unable to use his lower body to support his own weight and unable to stand, it is not possible to accurately measure the length of rope required for his hanging," they wrote.

"Consequently, no provision can be safely made for the accurate measurement of the rope that would hang him and to proceed with an inaccurately-measured length of rope would place him at risk of an appalling death."

The execution should be called off, his lawyers argued.

Pakistan has carried out a spate of executions after it lifted a moratorium in response to last year's Peshawar massacre, which saw Taliban militants gun down around 130 schoolboys.

Nearly 200 convicts have been hanged since the December 2014 attack, ostensibly in a bid to crack down on terrorism, though critics note that many of those executed are not convicted of terror-related offences.

Maya Foa, the head of legal charity Reprieve's death penalty team, warned that if Pakistan hanged Basit, it would be a "cruel and violent spectacle".

Irish Independent

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