Execution of Briton in Pakistan postponed

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The Independent Online

The brother of a Briton who has been on death row in Pakistan for 18 years today said the continued postponement of his execution was "torture and murder by a thousand cuts".

Leeds-born Mirza Tahir Hussain, 36, was convicted of murdering taxi driver Jamshed Khan in 1988 and has been in custody since then.

Prison officials in Pakistan today said his execution had been delayed from November 1 for two months after the Prince of Wales and the Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened in his plight.

His brother Amjad told Sky News: "It's not a question of more delays, this is basically torture and murder by a thousand cuts. This is just delaying tactics, because it shows Pakistan in a very bad light."

Mr Hussain told Sky News: "It's not a question of any more stays, it's a question of release.

"I've been waiting 18 years for this.

"My brother's served a 36-year sentence, with remission, for a crime he did not commit."

He said it was "repugnant, inhumane and barbaric" that his brother's fate was effectively in the hands of his alleged victim's family under Islamic law.

Asked about the role of the Prince of Wales in his brother's case after Charles disclosed he had raised concerns with the Pakistani Prime Minister, Mr Hussain said: "I'm really grateful to His Royal Highness for making that representation to the Prime Minister of Pakistan and I'm sure something must have prevailed him to do that."

And referring to Charles's imminent visit to Pakistan, which would have coincided with the November 1 execution date, he added: "Ideally, if it's within his powers, he should be bringing my brother home."

Earlier, Mehmood Ahmed, an official at Adiala jail in Rawalpindi where Hussain is being held, said: "We have received orders for a delay in the execution until December 31, 2006.

"We have informed him and he is happy."

A spokesman for the Prince of Wales said there were no plans for a further statement on the matter today.