Saturday 3 December 2016

Last-minute hanging reprieve for paraplegic man

Mohammad Zubair Khan

Published 23/09/2015 | 02:30

The execution was postponed by Faisalbad jail authorities yesterday morning.
The execution was postponed by Faisalbad jail authorities yesterday morning.

A paraplegic man on Pakistan’s death row has received a last-minute execution reprieve because he could not stand on the gallows for the noose to be placed around his neck.

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Abdul Basit (43), paralysed after contracting tubercular meningitis in prison, was scheduled to be executed at dawn yesterday for a murder that he denies committing. But although the Supreme Court dismissed his last legal appeal on Monday, the execution was postponed by Faisalbad jail authorities yesterday morning.

They acknowledged that as Basit was unable to stand on the gallows, it was impossible to carry out the execution according to prison rules. This complaint was at the centre of his legal team’s court appeal as experts warned that he could face a particularly grisly death if he was hanged from his wheelchair.

It was not immediately clear if the hanging was just delayed or his case was being reviewed.

A prison source said: “It was not possible to keep the paralysed Abdul Basit standing on the whiteboard of the gallows during execution. So this execution was halted and the jail management will submit a detailed report about this issue to the Supreme and High Court to seek fresh orders”.

Critics had said that Basit’s execution would have represented a shocking new low in Pakistan’s executions policy, breaching the country’s ban on “cruel and inhumane punishment”. He was expected to become the 240th person to be executed after Pakistan lifted a moratorium in response to last December’s Peshawar school massacre, when Taliban militants killed 130 children.

Basit, a father–of-two, was paralysed from the waist down after contracting meningitis in prison in 2010. The former administrator at a medical college was convicted in May 2009 of the murder of the uncle of a woman with whom he was allegedly in a relationship.

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