Pakistan has executed a man who was 15 when he was sentenced to death for murder and who rights groups say was tortured into confessing.
Aftab Bahadur was hanged in Lahore’s jail early on Wednesday morning.
Bahadur, a Christian, had been convicted of a double murder in the city in 1992. Campaigners called his execution “shameful”.
The death sentence could be passed on 15-year-olds at the time, although the minimum age was raised to 18 in 2000.
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“This is a truly shameful day for Pakistan’s justice system. Aftab was subjected to almost every injustice conceivable,” said Maya Foa, director from international human rights group Reprieve.
“To the last, Pakistan refused even to grant his lawyers the few days needed to present evidence which would have proved his innocence. This is a travesty of justice, and tragedy for all those who knew Aftab,” she added.
Reprieve said Bahadur had been convicted on the basis of testimony from two eyewitnesses. They both later retracted their statements, saying they were made under torture.
In an essay written for Reprieve before his death, Bahadur protested his innocence: “I just received my Black Warrant. It says I will be hanged by the neck until dead on Wednesday, 10 June. I am innocent, but I do not know whether that will make any difference.
“I suppose my life experience is different from that of most people, but I doubt there is anything more dreadful than being told that you are going to die, and then sitting in a prison cell just waiting for that moment.
“For many years – since I was just 15 years old – I have been stranded between life and death,” he added.
“I hope I do not die on Wednesday, but I have no source of money, so I can only rely on God and on my volunteer lawyers. I have not given up hope, though the night is very dark.”
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