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Pakistan prepares to execute 'mentally ill' inmate

Family members and lawyers say the condemned man suffers from paranoid schizophrenia

ucanews.com reporter, Lahore

ucanews.com reporter, Lahore

Updated: June 14, 2015 11:02 PM GMT
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Pakistan prepares to execute 'mentally ill' inmate
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Rights activists and family members of a death row inmate on Monday pleaded for a stay of execution for Khizar Hayat, who they say suffers from schizophrenia and therefore should be legally exempt from capital punishment.

Hayat, a former police officer, was sentenced to death in 2004 for the murder of a fellow police officer in Lahore. He has been on death row for 12 years.

The Sessions Court in Lahore issued a ‘black warrant’, or order of execution, for Hayat on June 9, and he is scheduled to be hanged at 4:30am on Tuesday.

A background brief prepared by the Justice Project Pakistan — a law firm that advocates for the rights of death row inmates — said that Hayat was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2008, and that prison officials have since overseen the administration of antipsychotic drugs.

“Beyond drugs, there is little treatment available for his condition, which has made him the target of abuse and attacks by fellow prisoners,” the briefing said, adding that Hayat had been beaten so savagely by another inmate that his head injuries were initially thought to have been fatal.

“Since that time, he has spent most of his time in total isolation because that is the only way to protect him both from himself and others on death row.”

Bilala Hayat, the son of the condemned man, told ucanews.com on Monday that his father had genuine medical problems.

“We were not expecting the death warrant, which was issued [last week], giving us no time to take up our case to the highest forums,” he said.

“I and other family members are waiting for the last meeting with my father. From here, we will go to the chief minister’s house and stage a sit-in.”

Masroor Shah, a Supreme Court lawyer, told ucanews.com that inmates who suffer from mental or physical disabilities cannot be executed under domestic and international law.

Amarnath Motumal, a lawyer and member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, urged authorities to halt Hayat’s execution.

“The court is bound by law to set up a medical board if there is doubt about the health of a convict,” he said, adding that the traditional moratorium on executions for the holy month of Ramadan — beginning on Thursday — should also be a factor in staying the order of execution.

The government lifted a six-year moratorium on the death penalty in December last year following a deadly Taliban attack on a military-run school in Peshawar in which 132 children were killed.

Authorities have executed 150 people in the six months since the moratorium was lifted — the most in any similar period in the last decade.

Last week, authorities executed Aftab Bahadur Masih, a Christian man who lawyers say was a juvenile when the murder he was convicted of was committed.

Church leaders in Pakistan and human rights advocates were unsuccessful in calling for clemency and a review of his case.

The execution also drew sharp rebukes from international rights groups, which called for an immediate end to what they termed “mass” executions in Pakistan.

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