Man executed for killing boy, 7, when he was teen

Shafqat Hussain's mother Makhni Begum holds up his photograph. Picture: AP
Shafqat Hussain's mother Makhni Begum holds up his photograph. Picture: AP
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Pakistan has executed a man convicted of killing a seven-year-old boy in 2004 when he himself was 14 years old, despite international outcry over his sentence.

Authorities hanged Shafqat Hussain shortly before dawn yesterday at a Karachi prison, a prison official said.

There are cigarette burns on his shoulder

Manzoor Hussain

Hussain’s brother, Gul Hassan, received the body and will take it to his native village in Kashmir. The deceased’s relatives visited him for the last time on Monday night.

“Shafqat Hussain was this morning executed in Pakistan, despite widespread calls, both within and outside the country, for a stay,” according to the legal aid group Justice Project Pakistan which represented Hussain.

Pakistan does not allow the execution of a juvenile, but prosecutors argued that Hussain was an adult at the time of the murder and had been working as a watchman at the time of his arrest.

Hussain’s lawyers said he had been tortured into confessing to the killing as a juvenile.

They argued that school records showed he was 17 in 2004 when he was burnt with cigarettes and had his fingernails removed until he admitted to the murder.

His parents have said their son was 14 at the time.

The human rights non-governmental organisation Reprieve said Hussain told them he would have sworn “that a deer was an elephant” after being subjected to torture.

“There are cigarette burns on his shoulder,” Hussian’s brother Manzoor said the day before he was hanged.

“They also burnt his ankles with a heated rod. Those scars are still there.”

His sister Sumera Bibi added: “Why are we not getting justice from the government? We want justice. We are pleading that my brother’s case should be tried all over again.”

Hussain’s execution had been stayed four times amid the controversy over executing someone who committed a crime as a minor.

After his last appeal failed, he remained on death row for another month as Ramadan had begun.

Pakistan halts execution during the holy fasting month.

Pakistan imposed a moratorium on executions in 2008, but then lifted the ban in December, after a Taleban attack on a military school in Peshawar killed 150 people, mostly children.

While some militants have been executed, other convicts have as well.

Human rights groups say Pakistan has about 8,000 people on death row. They have criticised the government for restarting executions, saying police often use torture to elicit confessions – including Hussain’s.

Authorities have denied the allegation.

Amnesty International called the execution a “deeply sad day” for Pakistan.

Hussain was convicted under the Anti-Terrorism Act of Pakistan, despite having no known links to any terrorist organisation, according to the human rights group.

“A man whose age remains disputed and whose conviction was built around torture has now paid with his life and for a crime for which the death penalty cannot be imposed under international law,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s south Asia research director.