Disabled Man Sentenced To Be Hung To Death In His Wheelchair

A paraplegic man is facing death by hanging, in his wheelchair, as he is unable to mount the execution platform.

Abdul Basit was found guilty of murder by Pakistani courts in 2009, and sentenced to death by hanging. Just a year later, he contracted Tuberculosis, which left him paralyzed below the waist and wheelchair-bound. But when Pakistan withdrew its moratorium on the death penalty after last December’s Peshawar massacre, Basit found himself at the front of the executioner’s list.

He was issued with a “Black Warrant” notifying him of his planned execution on July 29, and told by Pakistani officials that he would be hung while still seated in his wheelchair. The specter of such an undignified death has prompted an outraged response in Pakistan and around the world.

Clive Stafford Smith, director of the legal action charity, Reprieve, told Boston News Time:
“In the name of all that is decent, it is time for the Pakistan president to call a halt to this grisly experiment with the gallows.”

Basit’s legal team are looking to appeal the sentence. As The Telegraph reports:

Basit’s lawyers at Justice Project Pakistan have issued an urgent mercy appeal to Pakistan’s president, Mamnoon Hussain, claiming that hanging a wheelchair-bound person is in breach of its own prison regulations.

“Given that the condemned prisoner is unable to use his lower body to support his own weight and unable to stand, it is not possible to accurately measure the length of rope required for his hanging,” they wrote.

“Consequently, no provision can be safely made for the accurate measurement of the rope that would hang him and to proceed with an inaccurately-measured length of rope would place him at risk of an appalling death.”

The appeal is set to take place on August 25.

The case is another among Pakistan’s current wave of executions which appear to be less to do with justice than public spectacle. Since the moratorium was ended in December, Pakistan has killed more than 200 people. With more than 500 others facing the same fate imminently, Amnesty International has called on Pakistan to stop the killings.

“The killing spree that is unfolding in Pakistan must end immediately. As horrific as the Peshawar attack was, proving you are tough on crime by carrying out more killings is never the answer to combating violence,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

The case is yet another reminder of the barbarity of the death penalty. Wherever it exists in the world, injustice follows.

Featured Image via Reprieve