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Shafqat to be executed on August 4

KARACHI: An anti-terrorism court on Monday issued a fresh black warrant for the execution of condemned prisoner Shafqat Hussain and directed jail authorities to send him to the gallows on August 4 at the Karachi Central Prison.

The jail authorities approached the trial court through an application before Ramazan for the issuance of fresh warrant for execution of condemned prisoner by submitting that the court issued last warrant on June 1 and fixed June 9 for hanging. However, the execution was postponed hours before the scheduled time, they added.

A court official earlier said the application was not taken up since a moratorium was imposed on executions during the holy month, adding that the court was likely to issue a fresh warrant on Saturday.

A trial court (ATC-III) judge issued fresh black warrants for Shafqat on Monday (today) with directives to hang him till death on August 4 at 4:00 am under the supervision of a judicial magistrate, and submit a compliance report after executing him.

Shafqat was sentenced to death by an antiterrorism court in September 2004 after he was found guilty of killing a seven-year-old boy after abducting him for ransom in April 2004 in New Town.
The Sindh High Court had upheld the death sentence in the crime of kidnapping for ransom and set aside the conviction in the premeditated murder by converting it into manslaughter.

The Supreme Court also dismissed his appeal in October 2007, while his review petition was also turned down by the apex court in December 2007. The president rejected his mercy petition in July 2012.

On June 1, the trial court issued a black warrant for the execution of the death row prisoner, who hails from Azad Kashmir, and asked the jail superintendent to hang him till death on June 9.

However, Shafqat was given a last-minute reprieve after his execution was stayed for the fourth time hours before he was supposed to be hanged.

A day before his scheduled execution, foreign diplomats of five European countries called on Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and urged him to stop the execution of death row prisoner Shafqat Hussain.

The condemned prisoner has been dodging death since 2012 as implementation of black warrants, which have repeatedly been issued by the trial court, were stayed because the Pakistan Peoples Party government had placed a moratorium on execution after coming into power in 2008.

The PML-N government lifted the moratorium in December last year. However, he escaped execution on a number of occasions due to the issue of his alleged juvenility.

Certain non-governmental organisations and the media raised their voice against his scheduled hanging on the ground that he was allegedly an underage person —14 years old — at the time of the commissioning of the offence.

The Federal Investigation Agency was assigned to investigate the matter and a three-member inquiry team found that the condemned prisoner was around 23 years old in 2004 i.e. the time of the offence.

The prosecution said that Hussain was a watchman of Nadeem Arcade and he kidnapped Umair, the son of a car dealer, when the latter came downstairs from his second-floor apartment. The accused took the boy to his room and hit him in the head with a club when the boy insisted on leaving. The boy died instantly and Hussain dumped the body in a nearby drain, it added.

He made ransom calls from different public call offices but he never turned up to collect the ransom amount, the prosecution said, adding that, finally, he asked the victim’s father to place the money under a wooden box lying inside the compound of the Nadeem Arcade. The move led to his arrest as the police said the box belonged to the watchman, the prosecution concluded.

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