LAHORE: Paraplegic death-row convict Abdul Basit on Wednesday filed a mercy petition before President Mamnoon Hussain praying for his death sentence to be commuted.
The 43-year-old’s execution was suspended on September 22 after prison authorities wrote to the Home Department for instructions in the wake of the orders of a three-judge Supreme Court bench that had instructed them to desist from violating any laws while executing the hanging. An official at the Faisalabad Central Jail had said that Basit’s execution had been temporarily halted after the duty magistrate had not been able to make him stand on the scaffold.
The father-of-two who has been paralysed from the waist down after contracting meningitis in prison asked his execution to be halted permanently through his petitioner Sarah Belal saying that the nation’s prison rules did not provide for hanging convicts unable to stand. This, he said, left him vulnerable to experiencing a botched execution. He also made a reference to the agony he experienced while waiting to be hanged and the hope engendered by its subsequent suspension.
Belal said a recent jail medical report had confirmed that Basit was “bedridden” and had next to no chance of making a recovery. Quoting his mother in the petition, she said, “I am not educated but I know that this is not what Islam teaches – this is not what the law says. Cannot they see that he has suffered for years? Who says this is justice? How can they do this to a paraplegic man? Please have mercy on my son.”
Belal, the director of Justice Project Pakistan, said Basit’s hanging had been stopped virtually at the last moment. She said this had happened as it was impossible to hang a paraplegic convict without violating prison rules and the orders of the Supreme Court. She said reissuing a black warrant following the halting of the convict’s execution would compound the cruelty he had been undergoing. Belal said he and his family had already suffered enough.
A death-row convict was hanged at Kot Lakhpat Jail. Mushtaq had been convicted of killing Abdullah, a citizen, in 2000. His body was later handed over to relatives for burial.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2015.