A last-minute stay of execution has been issued for a Pakistani man sentenced to death for the murder of a child, according to anti-death penalty group Reprieve.
Following a huge outcry over the case of Shafqat Hussain, who was charged with murder aged just 14 in 2004, a Pakistani government minister announced that a stay had been issued.
An inquiry will reportedly be launched into his age at the time of the conviction and the torture he underwent before "confessing".
President has stayed #ShafqatHussain execution. Detailed inquiry to be held on his age and torture allegations...— Clive Stafford Smith (@CliveSSmith) March 18, 2015
The execution of juveniles and the use of torture evidence are illegal in Pakistan.
Yet Hussain was arrested, burnt with cigarettes and had three fingernails extracted to force him to confess to killing a child, his lawyers say.
Authorities said they have no proof Hussain was underage at the time of his conviction. He was due to be hanged on the morning of 19 March.
Maya Foa, director of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said: "This decision to stay the execution of a man tortured into ‘confessing’ to a crime when he was merely a child is hugely welcome.
"It is, however, a shame that it took an outcry and the weight of civil society to push the Minister into doing the right thing – just hours before Shafqat was due to be led to the gallows.
"Minister Nisar must at last conduct the full and proper inquiry into Shafqat’s case that was initially promised, and stay all other impending executions while he works out how many of those people may have been tortured into ‘confessing’ to crimes when they were children."
Pakistan lifted its moratorium on the death penalty in all capital cases earlier this month, after restarting executions for terrorism offences in the wake of the Taliban school massacre in Peshawar.Reuse content