The wife of a Pakistani man diagnosed with schizophrenia on Saturday appealed to the country’s president to spare her husband’s life and suspend a death sentence that is set to be carried out in less than 72 hours, as international human rights groups stepped up their campaign against executions in Pakistan.
“I met with my husband Imdad Ali in jail two days ago and he doesn’t fully comprehend what is about to happen,” Safia Bano told The Associated Press. She said she has filed a revised petition in the Supreme Court, requesting suspension of the scheduled November 2 execution of the 50-year-old Ali.
Bano said her lawyer has informed her that the court will hear her appeal on Monday.
Ali has been on death row since he was convicted in 2001 of murdering a religious scholar in central Pakistan. Sketchy details are available about the circumstances in which the murder took place. Bano at first said the slain man was an expert in “black magic” and she did not know what prompted Ali to kill him.
Her comments came after a human rights committee in Pakistan’s upper house of parliament urged the government to halt Ali’s execution, saying it will seek a pardon from President Mamnoon Hussain.
Ali was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2008. Pakistan’s highest court has already rejected Ali’s final appeal, claiming his disease does not qualify as a mental disorder.
According to Reprieve, an international human rights group, European Union politicians have also warned that Pakistan’s preferential trade status with the EU could be in danger because of executions in the country. In a statement, it said EU trade delegates were due to visit the country on Monday ahead of Ali’s execution to assess whether Pakistan has honored its obligations to abide by human rights standards.
Maya Foa, a director at Reprieve, said Ali was so seriously ill that he didn’t even understand he faces the hangman’s noose. Doubts have surfaced about the process of executions in Pakistan after a court overturned the death penalty of two brothers only to find out that the two men had already been executed while their appeal was still underway. Pakistan has hanged over 400 convicts since a moratorium on executions was lifted in 2014.
Executions in Pakistan remained on hold 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 December 2014 that killed 150 people, nearly all of them children.
Reprieve said only a small number of the executions since 2014 have been related to terrorism. It said Pakistan recently overtook Saudi Arabia to become the world’s third ranking executor, trailing only China and Iran.