27/07/2006

Briton's execution stayed for one month

A British man who is due to be executed in Pakistan has been granted a one-month stay of execution.

Mirza Hussain, 36, was due to be hanged on August 3, after being convicted of the killing of a taxi driver in Pakistan 18 years ago.

However, Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, granted Hussain, who is from Leeds, a further stay of execution.

Hussain was convicted of the murder of the taxi driver in 1988, when he was 18 years old. However, the guilty verdict was rejected at Lahore High Court in 1996, following several trials. The court had ruled that there was flawed evidence in the case.

However, a week after the acquittal, it was declared that some of the alleged offences came within the jurisdiction of Islamic law and the case was referred to the Federal Shariat Court, which reserved the High Court's decision and sentenced him to death.

Hussain had denied murdering the taxi driver, claiming that he killed him in self defence. He claimed that the driver attempted to both physically and sexually assault him, before taking out a pistol. During a struggle, Hussain alleged that the pistol went off, shooting the driver who subsequently died from his wounds.

Hussain's family have been campaigning for his sentenced to be overturned and the campaign has been supported by both human rights and Muslim groups.

Fair Trials Abroad argued that, by the terms of the Pakistan Constitution, the High Court was the appropriate court to adjudicate appeals in criminal matters and it also guaranteed that no defendant could be tried twice for the same crime.

(KMcA/SP)

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