Shafqat Hussain dodges the gallows again

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President Mamnoon Hussain orders delay in controversial death row convict’s hanging which was scheduled for today

After protests from civil society on the roads and on social media, and pleas from Shafqat Hussain’s family, the controversial execution was delayed a second time just five hours before the hanging time.

According to sources, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar requested President Mamnoon Hussain to delay the execution. The president, while acknowledging that no innocent should be unduly executed, allowed the delay.

Earlier in the day, the family of Shafqat Hussain appealed to the government and judiciary to save the death row convict from his execution which is scheduled to take place at dawn on Thursday.

In 2001, Shafqat had allegedly murdered a child named Umair, and was sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court in 2004. He was 14-years-old at the time. Mercy appeals for Shafqat were rejected by the high court in 2006, Supreme Court in 2007 and the presidency in 2012.

Shafqat’s mother Makhni Begum, along with her daughter Samira bibi, held a press conference on Wednesday during which she claimed that her son was innocent. She said three suspects had been arrested in the case, but only her son was convicted while the other two were let go.

Makhni Begum further said that no one was fighting her son’s case which is why he was set to be executed.

“For God sake don’t bereave me of my Shafqat … He is my last child … Please don’t snatch him from me,” she pleaded.

“Save my Shafqat from falling victim to injustice,” she continued in what was a last-ditch attempt to influence the authorities to halt his execution.

She reiterated that Shafqat was a minor at the time when he was sentenced to death, and that according to the law, a minor cannot be sentenced to a death penalty.

She added that if her son was executed, it would be a great injustice. She called on human rights organisations and other institutions to play a role in saving her son.