Pakistan has delayed the hanging of a paralysed man because it cannot work out how to hang him in his wheelchair.
Abdul Basit, who was convicted of murder in 2009, was due to be hanged early on Tuesday but the postponement came barely an hour before the appointed execution time, according to the BBC’s Ilyas Khan.
Basit is paralysed from the waist down after contracting tubercular meningitis in 2010 while in Faisalabad’s central prison.
He was sentenced to death but authorities struggled to decide on how to hang him, since he is unable to stand to allow a hangman to tie a noose correctly to allow for the “long-drop” method to be utilised. Pakistan only allows people to be executed legally using this method.
Basit had initially been sentenced to die on 29 July but this was postponed the day before after the Lahore High Court accepted a petition challenging the execution on the basis that it would constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, contravening prison rules and violating his fundamental rights under Pakistan’s constitution and international law.
But on 1 September, the High Court dismissed the 43-year-old’s petition, ruling that since the hanging of a paralysed prisoner was not expressly forbidden by the prison rules, there was no bar to the execution.
The campaign to put Basit to death has been widely criticised.
Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said: “Rather than confronting the inherent cruelty of capital punishment, Pakistani officials are puzzling over how to hang a man in a wheelchair.”
He added: “The death penalty is an inherently cruel and irrevocable punishment that doesn’t solve any of the complex security problems facing the Pakistani people.
“The Pakistani government should strengthen its justice system rather than sending more people like Abdul Basit to the gallows.
“The government should place an official moratorium on capital punishment until the practice is abolished.”
Pakistan ended its four-year unofficial moratorium on capital punishment in December 2014 following an attack on a school in Peshawar, which saw more than 150 people, mainly children, murdereded by the Taliban.
In the months since, 236 people have been executed. More than 8,000 people are currently languishing on death row.