Sunday, 22 October 2006

Pakistan: Fourth reprieve for Mirza Hussain

Mirza Tahir Hussain was given a fourth stay of execution on 19 October, apparently to prevent cancellation of a state visit to the country by Prince Charles.

The UK citizen was scheduled to be hanged on 1 November, three days after Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall arrive in Pakistan.

President Pervez Musharraf issued the stay of execution, which delays the hanging until at least 31 December.

According to UK newspaper The Independent, there were "unconfirmed reports from Pakistan that President Pervez Musharraf has appointed a legal counsel to re-examine the case and consider the possibility of a pardon for Hussain".

UK's The Times newspaper quoted a senior Pakistani official as saying: "We are considering the case on humanitarian grounds. Initially, a two-month stay order is being given for his execution. In the meantime the Government will try to find a permanent solution to this issue."

A Pakistani cabinet minister reportedly told the Associated Press that the President was consulting legal experts and Islamic scholars to find a way to "permanently settle this matter".

The minister told AP there was " a possibility that he [Hussain] would be pardoned. God willing, we will find some solution."

The latest reprieve comes after Prince Charles raised the case directly with President Musharraf.

"The Prince of Wales has been concerned about this case for some time and had raised it with the Prime Minister of Pakistan," said a spokesman quoted in UK newspaper The Telegraph.

According to another report, the Pakistan Government has angrily denied the reprieve was a result of pressure from the UK.

"It has nothing to do with what the British leadership has to say. There was no pressure and I have said earlier that we do not accept ultimatums from anybody," a spokesman said.

Related stories:
Call for abolition: Pakistan columnist -- 17 October, 2006
Pakistan: Thousands in "brutal" system – 12 October, 2006
Pakistan: Hanging delayed, but how long? -- 03 October, 2006
UK pressure over Pakistan hanging -- 01 October, 2006

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