ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal brought by lawyers for the mentally ill prisoner facing execution, and a rights group said he could now be hanged next week.
Imdad Ali, 50, was sentenced to death for the murder of a religious cleric in 2002.
He had been scheduled to be executed on September 20 in Vehari prison despite having been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Ali received a last-minute stay of execution from the Supreme Court last week. But with that stay now expired, he could receive a new “black warrant” and face execution as early as next Tuesday.
Additional Advocate General Punjab Razzaq Mirza presented Ali’s medical reports before the court and argued that the accused had been in jail for the past eight years and the schizophrenia had only surfaced after he was moved to Vehari prison. He added that Ali was fine and was only pretending to be mentally ill.
This is the third time Ali’s plea has been cancelled. It had been earlier cancelled by a trial court and a high court.
The Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), which is providing Ali with counsel, has sent a mercy petition to President Mamnoon Hussain along with testimony from medical experts.
“It is indisputable that Ali suffers from serious mental illness,” said Harriet McCulloch, deputy director of the death penalty team at international charity Reprieve.
“There is therefore no doubt that, should Pakistan execute him, it will be committing a grave violation of both Pakistani and international law. “It is shocking that the system has failed Ali at every turn — right the way up to the Supreme Court. The Pakistan government must immediately halt Ali’s execution, and undertake a comprehensive review into how someone who is clearly mentally unfit to be executed has been allowed to come so near to the noose.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2016.