KARACHI • Pakistan has executed a convicted killer who, supporters say, was a juvenile at the time of his crime, despite strenuous objections from rights groups and the United Nations.
Shafqat Hussain was hanged yesterday at a jail in Karachi for killing a seven-year-old boy in 2004, his brother and a prison official said.
His case drew international attention as his lawyers and family say he was only 15 at the time of the killing and was tortured into confessing.
His brothers also allege that the execution was not done properly, saying "there is a cut mark on his neck and half of his neck is separated from his body".
In his home town in the Pakistani-administered part of Kashmir, his family was distraught.
"Why did they hang my innocent brother, only because we were poor?" said his sister Sumaira Bibi.
UN rights experts have said his trial "fell short of international standards" and urged Pakistan to investigate claims that he confessed under torture, as well as his age.
The Kashmir government urged President Mamnoon Hussain late on Monday to postpone the execution to allow further inquiries, but the hanging went ahead.
Hussain was originally due to face the noose in January but won four stays of execution as his lawyers fought to prove he was under 18 at the time of his offence and therefore could not be executed under Pakistani law. But a government-ordered probe to determine Hussain's age ruled that he was an adult at the time of his conviction.
Pakistan has hanged around 180 convicts since restarting executions in December.
The European Union, which opposes capital punishment in all cases, has been particularly vocal.
Last week, the EU mission in Islamabad said it was "deeply concerned" by the resumption of hangings and warned that a prized trade status granted to Pakistan could be threatened unless it stuck to international conventions on fair trials, child rights and preventing torture.
Hussain was working as a watchman in Karachi in 2004 when a seven-year-old boy went missing from the neighbourhood. A few days later, the boy's family received calls from Hussain's cellphone demanding a ransom of half a million Pakistani rupees (S$6,700). Hussain was arrested and he admitted kidnapping and killing the boy, but later withdrew his confession, saying he had made it under duress.
Amnesty International estimates that Pakistan has over 8,000 prisoners on death row, most of whom have exhausted the appeals process.
But critics say Pakistan's courts are largely unjust forums, with rampant police torture, poor legal representation for victims, and unfair trials.