KARACHI: The execution of condemned prisoner Shafqat Hussain has been deferred for the fourth time.
An anti-terrorism court (ATC) had issued black warrants for death row convict Hussain for the fourth time, for June 9.
He was sentenced to death in 2004 for kidnapping and involuntary murder of a seven-year-old boy in, 2001 who lived in an apartment building where Hussain worked as a security guard.
Shafqat Hussain’s death sentence has been challenged in the Supreme Court on grounds of his age issue.
The plea has been approved for hearing and three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk will hear the petition today.
Earlier, scheduled to be hanged on January 15 the federal government stayed his hanging and ordered an investigation following protests by civil society members who claimed that he was a juvenile – 14 years old – when he was handed down the punishment and had confessed to the murder only to save himself from the brutal torture he suffered at the hands of police officials on a daily basis.
He was later scheduled to be hanged on March 19 but was yet again provided a last minute reprieve after protestors gathered outside the presidency.
A reinvestigation into the case was then ordered by the Interior Ministry.
A three-member team of the Federal Investigation Agency was formed to ascertain his age which later concluded that Hussain was 23 years old at the time the court had announced its verdict.
As per the FIA report, the inquiry was mandated “not to determine the age of Shafqat Hussain… [but]to ascertain whether the claim of juvenility of Shafqat Hussain at the time of crime is valid as per the facts on record or all the evidences available so far and whether the issue of juvenility can be legally or principally raised at this point of time.”
Hence the conclusion regarding his age was drawn on the basis of the existing documentary evidence and not through a biological test. The ATC then issued a black warrant for Hussain on April 24 which scheduled his hanging for May 6; however, the Islamabad High Court stayed his hanging for a day questioning the legality of the committee formed.
According to a report published in The News, Hussain had also filed an application seeking a judicial inquiry into the matter of verification of his age. He had expressed dissatisfaction over the FIA’s inquiry.
However, the IHC on May 11 dismissed the application.
On expiration of the 30-day stay, the Superintendent Central Jail Karachi wrote to ATC III judge demanding to issue fresh death warrants for the convict.
Later, the ATC had issued black warrants for Hussain for the fourth time, for June 9.