Pak postpones execution of disabled death row convict

Pakistan today postponed the hanging of its first-ever paraplegic death row convict at the eleventh hour citing lack of clarity of rules on how to execute a physically disabled person, amid an outcry by rights groups over the impending execution.

Abdul Basit, 43, was scheduled to be executed in Faisalabad Central Jail in Punjab but the decision was not implemented.

Ordering the postponement, a magistrate said that Basit could not be hanged in compliance with the jail manual because he is in a wheelchair.

According to the local laws, the convict should stand up on the platform for the noose but in case of Basit, he is bound to wheel-chair, an official said.

The authorities are considering seeking opinion of the home department in Punjab and inspector general of jails in the province on how to carry out the execution.

There was no official confirmation of when the execution would take place.
Basit was convicted in 2009 for killing a man over a financial dispute but he suffered tuberculosis meningitis in 2010 and an attack of paralysis which disabled the lower part of his body.

He was to be executed on July 29 but it was temporarily halted by Lahore High Court after a petition was lodged to set aside the death penalty due to his bad health.

The court later rejected it, saying there was no legal bar on execution of a paralysed man and the issue of health should be determined by jail authorities including a qualified doctor.

Later, the Supreme Court also rejected a similar appeal.
Right groups like Amnesty International, Reprieve and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan had demanded cancellation of Basit’s execution.

Pakistan has executed about 240 convicts since restoring death penalty after the gruesome Taliban attack on an army-run school in Peshawar last December that killed 150 people, mostly children.

There are currently about 8,000 death row prisoners in the country.