Pakistan sets date for execution of mentally ill prisoner
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani authorities have set a date for the execution of a man diagnosed with schizophrenia after the country’s highest court rejected his final appeal on the ground that his disease does not qualify as a mental disorder, a defense lawyer said Wednesday.
Imdad Ali, 50, has been on death row since he was convicted in 2001 of murdering a religious scholar. A judge issued an order for him to be hanged on Nov. 2, Sara Bilal, a lawyer at Justice Project Pakistan, told The Associated Press.
She said she has asked Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain to accept a revised appeal for mercy for Ali. Under Pakistan’s constitution, the president has authority to pardon any convicted person. Hussain rejected the first petition for a pardon, which was filed by jail officials on Ali’s behalf, Bilal said.
The court decision comes days after the country’s Supreme Court ruled that schizophrenia does not qualify as a mental disorder under the country’s Mental Health laws. Bilal said Ali was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2008, and a medical report in 2012 certified him as being mentally ill. Doctors again confirmed he was schizophrenic on Sept. 19, Bilal said.
The lawyer said Ali has spent more than 14 years in prison, including three spent in solitary confinement in a prison hospital due to his condition.
“Imdad Ali’s execution will serve no retributive purpose, as he remains completely unaware of this reality,” she said.
Pakistani and international human rights groups have been urging Pakistan to halt Ali’s execution since the country’s highest court rejected his final appeal on Sept. 27.
On Wednesday, Maya Foa, a director at the human rights organization Reprieve, said it was the president’s constitutional duty to review death penalty cases and to use his power to grant mercy in cases such as Ali’s.
Pakistan halted executions between 2008 and 2014 due to pressure from international human rights groups. But it lifted the moratorium on executions following a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar in Dec. 2014 that killed 150 people, nearly all of them children.
According to latest figures released by Reprieve, Pakistan has executed more than 400 prisoners in the past two years, with the overwhelming majority of cases not related to terrorism. It said since lifting its moratorium on executions, Pakistan sent 418 prisoners to the gallows, overtaking Saudi Arabia to become the third country in the world in terms of the number of executions, after only China and Iran.