Supreme Court of Pakistan. File/ Reuters
Pakistan’s top court on Monday commuted the death sentence of a convict who had spent 23 years on death row, after determining he had committed the crime while still a minor, his defense lawyer said.
The Supreme Court's ruling was hailed by Justice Project Pakistan, a rights group that fought the years-long legal battle for Muhammad Anwar.
Anwar was arrested in 1993, after police accused him of participating in an attack that killed a villager. He was sentenced to death in 1998. He was 17 years old at the time of the attack, said the lawyer, Zainab Mahboob, expressing hope that Anwar will be released soon.
The court ruled the time spent in prison will be considered as served sentence, Mahboob added. She added that Anwar while in prison, had suffered three heart attacks since 2013.
Under Pakistani law, inmates are freed if they have already spent more than 14 years behind bars after being convicted and sentenced in a murder case.
Barrister Sarah Belal, executive director of Justice Project Pakistan, welcomed the development, saying “Pakistan has steadily been taking steps to ensure the fulfillment of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
Last year, another court had commuted the death sentence of Muhammad Iqbal, who spent over 20 years on death row for a crime committed as a minor. “This, however, begs the question why children are being sentenced to death anyway when all local and international laws expressly prohibit it,” Bilal said.
Pakistan halted executions between 2008 and 2014 due to pressure from international human rights groups but lifted the moratorium following a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar in December 2014 that killed 150 people, nearly all of them children.
Since then, Pakistan has executed 515 inmates. More than 4,200 are still on death row at prisons in the country.
The development was announced by prosecutors during a brief hearing of the high-profile case at Pakistan’s Supreme Court, which was to decide whether the key suspect in Pearl's slaying, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, should stay in jail following his acquittal.
Ajay Lalwani, 31, a reporter for a local television station and an Urdu language newspaper, was shot multiple times while having his hair cut at a barber shop on Thursday, said Ashiq Mirani, the area police chief.
According to the sources, the system would provide a record of round-the-clock movement on roads and it would not only help in controlling and managing the traffic volume across the motorways and highways for its smooth and safe flow, but also provide for effective and timely interception of crimes.
“We felt we needed to come up with an innovative approach to control street crime,” said Farrukh Ali, chief of the unit, explaining that officers on rollerblades could more easily chase thieves on motorcycles through the city of 20 million.
The flight, operated by Go First, took off for Sharjah at 6:30pm from Srinagar and landed at Sharjah International Airport at 9:30pm UAE time. The flight revives direct air link between the Kashmir Valley and the UAE after 11 years.
In the first case, which took place at 5:00pm, there were 3 Asians, two of whom were rescued while the third, 29, drowned. In the second case, which took place at 6:00pm, an Arab, 30, drowned and was transported by the national ambulance to the Khalifa Hospital..
According to Colonel Saleh Al Dhanhani, Director of the Traffic and Patrols Department at Fujairah Police, the accident took place around 7:30am on Sunday when a man dropped his son identified as ASA opposite the private school where he was studying.