President obliges after appeals for review of case of Shafqat Hussain convicted in 2004 of murder while still a minor.
Pakistani authorities are set to hang a man who says he was 15 when arrested for a murder he says he did not commit, lawyers have said.
Ansar Iqbal says he was 15 when he and a friend were arrested 16 years ago for the murder of a neighbour, which the victim’s family said was over an argument at a cricket match. Iqbal says police framed him because he was poor by planting two guns at his house.
Pakistani law forbids the execution of juveniles, but the country’s courts have refused to examine Iqbal’s school records and birth certificate because they say they were submitted too late, said Maya Foa of British legal aid group Reprieve on Saturday.
His old school record and a new birth certificate issued this year give his age as 14 and 15 respectively. Record keeping in Pakistan is poor, and records are easily forged.
Instead, the court concluded he was in his early twenties based on a policeman’s estimate at the time of his arrest, Foa said. Iqbal’s friend was tried as a juvenile.
“The onus has to be on the government and prosecution to prove that the individual facing the gallows is not a juvenile if all the available evidence points otherwise,” she said.
“Otherwise it puts the defendant in an impossible position.”
Iqbal’s lawyer, Munir Basit, confirmed his client had been tried as an adult and had been notified he was to be hanged at Sargodha jail next week.
“He has received his black warrant in the concerned jail,” Basit said, according to the Reuters news agency.
Pakistan brought back hanging in December as a way to crack down on armed fighters after Taliban gunmen massacred more than 130 pupils at an army-run school.
But very few of the 240 people hanged have any links to the Taliban or other groups.
Most, like Iqbal, were convicted of murder. Many of their families say they were falsely accused and too poor to get good lawyers. Few, if any, wealthy convicts have been hanged.