LAHORE: A district and session judge suspended on Saturday the execution of a mentally-challenged prisoner, who was scheduled to be hanged on November 7 in Lahore Central Jail.
District and Session Judge Abid Hussain Qureshi ordered the jail superintendent to submit a comprehensive report, along with medical record and latest status of the prisoner, Saleem Ahmed, by November 8.
The convict, Ahmed, had killed his sister, Nasim Begum, on July 22, 2001, for refusing to give him pocket money. She was the mother of three children.
The complainant, Raja Javaid Akhtar, who is the husband of the deceased, had stated in the FIR registered at the North Cantt police station that the accused (his brother-in-law) used to visit his home to get pocket money from his sister, Nasim. “He killed my wife when she refused to give him money.”
Police submitted a challan in the court and declared him guilty.
During the trial, the prosecution produced as many as 10 prosecution witnesses. While the accused, denied allegations of his involvement in the murder.
Ahmed said: “The complainant, in connivance with the police, got me implicated in the murder case just to usurp my share in the property of my late father.
I am innocent and mentally unstable. Prosecution witnesses deposed against me because they are closely related with the complainant. “
The counsel for the accused contended that the accused, owner of a commercial property, was implicated in a forged case. “The complainant is greedy this is why he implicated him in a false case.”
The counsel contended that the complainant was not witness to the incident as he was sitting in the drawing room while the killing took place in the bedroom. He argued that if he had been there, he would have shifted his injured wife to a hospital.
While the counsel for the complainant maintained that the accused had killed the deceased and the weapon used in the murder was recovered from his possession.
According to him, medical evidence also corroborated prosecution’s case.
The accused, he said, was liable to be awarded capital punishment.
However, the judge awarded the accused death sentence and directed him to pay Rs100,000 as compensation to legal heirs of the deceased.
According to a statement issued by the Justice Project Pakistan (a human rights organisation that provides free legal representation to most vulnerable Pakistani prisoners facing harshest punishments), the investigating officer testified that a neighbour told him about Ahmed’s mental illness. Even the trial court noticed on several occasions that he was ‘talking insanely and did not have any orientation.’
However, the Lahore Mental Hospital declared him “fit to stand trial” in 2002.
He was sentenced to death in 2004. Since then Ahmed has been diagnosed with a psychiatric illness by the Punjab Institute of Mental Health and has been on anti-psychotic drugs since 2013. He remained in psychiatric cells of the jail, having spent nearly 14 years on death row..
Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th, 2017.
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