Pakistan delays hanging of paraplegic convict

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Islamabad (dpa) – A paralyzed death-row convict had a stay of execution in Pakistan Tuesday after mounting criticism from human rights groups.

Abdul Basit had been scheduled to be hanged in Central Jail of Faisalabad city in the eastern province of Punjab.

The execution was delayed because rules are silent on how to hang a paraplegic man, a court official said on condition anonymity.

“Under the law, the convict should stand up for the noose around his neck,” he said.

Basit is confined to a wheelchair and cannot move the lower part of his body. He became paralyzed after a seizure in prison in 2010.

He was sentenced to death in 2009 for a killing a man in an argument, and his appeals were rejected by higher courts.

The execution was originally planned for July 29, but it was first stayed by the Lahore High Court after a petition to cancel the hanging due to his health.

The court rejected that plea, and ordered jail authorities to go ahead with the execution, inviting criticism from local and international groups.

Amnesty International on Monday urged Pakistan to halt the hanging.

“Instead of debating the logistics of how to put a man in a wheelchair to death, the authorities in Pakistan should grant a reprieve to Abdul Basit,” said Sultana Noon, Amnesty International’s Pakistan researcher.

Rights group Reprieve urged President Mamnoon Hussain to stop the execution of 43-year-old Basit.

“Pakistan’s president has the power to stay this execution – he must do so, without delay,” it said last week.

About 240 people have been hanged since Pakistan lifted a moratorium on the death penalty in December.

There are an estimated 8,000 death row prisoners in Pakistan, according to the Ministry of Interior.

Amnesty International called on Pakistan to restore its moratorium on the death penalty.

“This case has once again drawn widespread attention to the cruelty of the relentless conveyer belt of executions in Pakistan,” Noon said.

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