KARACHI–An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Friday issued a fresh death warrant for the execution of condemned prisoner Shafqat Hussain after an executive inquiry by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) concluded that he was 23 years of age when the punishment was handed down.
Shafqat was arrested and sentenced to death in 2004 for kidnapping and killing a seven-year-old boy from an apartment building in Karachi where he was working as a guard.
In September the same year, Shafqat was sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court. His murder charge was reduced to ‘involuntary manslaughter’ on appeal, but the terrorism charges against him were not quashed.
However, in late 2014, members of the civil society contended that Shafqat was a juvenile at the time of the incident.
He was to be executed on March 19 but a day before the sentencing civil society representatives gathered in front of the presidency against the order. The hanging was subsequently postponed for 72 hours and then for 30 days.
An inquiry was ordered to determine his age at the time of conviction and the torture he is reported to have suffered before ‘confessing’ to the murder.
According to the text of the FIA report, a three-member FIA inquiry team, led by Deputy Director Gulfam Nasir Warraich, found “absolutely no contradiction in the record (which includes Shafqat’s pictures at the time of arrest) that Shafqat Hussain was 23 years of age at the time of his arrest”.
The development dealt a sharp blow to the account presented by Shafqat’s family and his defence team who maintain that he was a juvenile at the time of his conviction.
The FIA report was subsequently sent to the president, the prime minister as well as the Human Rights Cell of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), which was managing Shafqat’s defence, filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court expressing dissatisfaction over the FIA’s investigation into its client’s age. Hearing the petition last Friday, Justice Athar Minallah had issued notices to the president, the prime minister, FIA, jail authorities and other parties, giving them 15 days to respond.
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— The Daily Mail - People's Daily