MUZAFFARABAD: The family of Shafqat Hussain, a young convict who is scheduled to be executed on March 19, has appealed to the president, chief justice, prime minister and interior minister to reopen the case.
Shafqat was handed the death penalty by an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in 2004, when he was only 14 years old. The Sindh police accused him of kidnapping and killing a seven-year-old boy, who had gone missing from the apartments where Shafqat worked as watchman.
Later, the murder charges were dropped but Shafqat was charged with causing accidental death while capital punishment was handed down to him for kidnapping.
He was one of the first two convicts in Karachi’s Central Jail who were scheduled to be hanged on January 14 after the government partially lifted moratorium on executions following the December 16 terrorist attack on an army-run school in Peshawar.
However, on January 7, the federal government issued a stay of execution for Shafqat and asked the Sindh government to re-examine the case after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told the lower house of parliament that Shafqat’s execution was being halted and an inquiry would be initiated into his case . However, an ATC in Sindh on Thursday reissued his death warrants for March 19.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Shafqat’s elder brother, Manzoor Hussain, asked how an ATC could issue new death warrants, when Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar had admitted in the National Assembly that Shafqat’s case would be reopened.
“First, we appeal to Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar to honour the commitment he made in the National Assembly on January 5 for the reopening of Shafqat’s case. If we are not given justice, then the hanging of Shafqat will be the murder of justice,” he said.
Manzoor said the Sindh police tortured his brother to extract the confession. He said Justice Project Pakistan also confirmed in its report that during the nine-day police custody Shafqat was forced to confess the crime.
“The present justice system has ruined our family as my ailing father and old mother are mentally disturbed,” he said as he implored the top government dignitaries to spare his brother’s life. “Both our family and the Neelum Valley have no criminal record,” he added.
Shafqat’s 80-year-old mother kissed his childhood picture and put it on her wet eyes as she told The Express Tribune that her son was innocent and had not killed anyone. His young sister, who was sitting close to her mother, said the Sindh police had framed concocted charges against his brother to spare the killers.
Shafqat’s old and ailing father was not even able to speak. With tears rolling down his cheeks, he shook his head from time to time as if trying to say that his son could not be guilty.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2015.