Shafqat Hussain, who was sentenced to death in 2004 for the kidnapping and murder of a seven-year-old boy, is scheduled to be executed tomorrow (Thursday). His mother, however, filed a mercy petition on Tuesday, seeking President Mamnoon Hussain’s help to intervene to commute her son’s death sentence to life imprisonment.
“Through this new petition, we beg pardon of the president and prime minister,” Hussain’s 65-year-old mother Makhani Begum told The Express Tribune over the phone from Neelum district in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. “I beg for new life for my son.” She appealed to the government to either commute her son’s death sentence to life imprisonment or reinvestigate his case. “I have not seen him for the past 11 years.”
Makhani Begum said in the petition that her son had sent a mercy petition to the president’s office after his execution was stayed following the Interior Ministry’s notification, which said to hold an inquiry to make sure if he fell within the said parameters defined by the government.
“No inquiry was conducted by the trial court, nor was any plea raised by Shafqat’s trial lawyer. We were not aware that Shafqat was arrested in a case, as our village is over 2,000km away from Karachi, in Azad Kashmir.”
She said the police had noted his age as 23 years old and since he had no ID documents, neither the court nor his defence lawyer ever challenged that. “Shafqat, too scared and suffering from a learning disability, did not find it in himself to disagree with anything that the police had told him to say, for fear of being tortured again.”
The Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) has despatched all documentary evidence to Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and requested him to stay the execution. The documents, also available with The Express Tribune, show that Hussain was born in 1991. These documents have been submitted to the office of the president as well.
Contradicting the interior minister’s claim, JPP executive director Sarah Belal said no investigation had been conducted to ascertain if Hussain was a juvenile at the time he was sentenced to death.
Justice (retd) Tariq Mahmood said the president has the authority to stop Hussain’s execution. “President Mamnoon Hussain, with the advice of the prime minister, could entertain the mercy petition either by commuting the death sentence to life imprisonment or ordering a reinvestigation into the case.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2015.