A convicted killer, who supporters say was a minor at the time of the crime and tortured into confessing, has been hanged in Pakistan. Shafqat Hussain's case sparked concern from rights groups and the United Nations.
According to a prison official in Karachi, Hussain was executed shortly before dawn local time on Tuesday for the 2004 killing of a 7-year-old boy in the coastal city.
"Shafqat Hussain was hanged 10 to 12 minutes before dawn prayers today," the official told news agency AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity. A relative of Hussain and an Interior Ministry official also confirmed the death.
Hussain's case sparked international concern because his family and lawyers said he was only 14 years old at the time of the crime. They also said he was tortured into confessing. UN rights experts have said his trial "fell short of international standards."
Amnesty International South Asia Research Director David Griffiths called it "another deeply sad day for Pakistan."
"A man whose age remains disputed and whose conviction was built around torture has now paid with his life - and for a crime for which the death penalty cannot be imposed under international law," Griffiths said in a statement. "The government has shown a callous indifference to not just human life, but also to international law and standards."
Around 180 executions since December
Hussain's execution had been postponed several times in recent months as his lawyers fought to prove he was not yet 18 at the time of the killing, which under Pakistani law meant he could not be executed.
According to AFP, the government of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Hussain's home region, urged President Mamnoon Hussain late on Monday to postpone the execution to allow further investigations. Exact birth records are not always kept in Pakistan, especially for people from poor families like Hussain's.
Pakistan has executed about 180 convicts since December, when it lifted its moratorium on carrying out the death penalty in reaction the Taliban massacre at a Peshawar school, in which more than 150 people were killed, most of them children.
se/cmk (AFP, dpa)