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Imminent execution


Zahid Masih (m)

Zahid Masih, who worked for the Pakistan army, is due to be
executed on 12 March. According to local human rights
organizations, he was found guilty of the murder and sexual
assault of a nine-year old boy after an unfair trial before a
military court. The army chief, General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani, can
commute his sentence at any time. President Musharraf can also
intervene to commute the sentence.

According to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), in 2003,
Zahid Masih went missing from the military camp at Chirat, in the
Nowshera district of Peshawar, where he worked as a sanitary
worker for the Pakistan army. His family were not notified of his
whereabouts for about two years. On 1 March 2005, he was charged
with sexual assaulting and murdering a nine-year-old boy, Mohammad
Adnan. Zahid Masih was subsequently found guilty by a military
court for both crimes and sentenced to death on 10 March 2006. The
AHRC reports that Zahid Masih was tortured in order to force him
to confess to the murder and was denied the right to legal
representation during his trial. Zahid Masih claimed that he had
been framed for the murder and that other military personnel at
the cantonment had committed the crime.

Zahid Masih is held in Peshawar Central Jail. He had been
scheduled for execution on 31 January, but the execution was
stayed for 20 days. It is now set to take place on 12 March.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION : According to human rights groups in
Pakistan, at least 193 people were sentenced to death in Pakistan
in 2007 and at least 124 were executed, including one who was
under 18 at the time when the offence was committed. In 2006,
Amnesty International found that at least 446 people were
sentenced to death in Pakistan and at least 82, including a
juvenile, were executed. Most had been found guilty of murder.
Many wealthier individuals convicted of similar crimes are able to
escape punishment under provisions of the law known as the Qisas
and Diyat, which allow the legal heirs of murder victims to accept
compensation for the killing, and pardon the offender.

On 18 December 2007 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a
resolution on a worldwide moratorium on the use of the death
penalty.  The votes were 104 in favour, 54 against, with 29
abstentions. The government of Pakistan voted against the

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases. The
death penalty is a symptom of a culture of violence, and not a
solution to it. It has not been shown to have any greater
deterrent effect than other punishments, and carries the risk of
irrevocable error. The organization considered the death penalty
to be the ultimate form of cruel, inhuman and degrading
punishment, and a violation of the right to life.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as
possible, in English, Urdu or your own language:
- calling for President Musharraf and General Kayani to halt the
execution of Zahid Masih, which is scheduled to be carried out on
12 March, and to commute his sentence;
- calling on the authorities to order prompt, thorough and
impartial investigation into the claims made by Zahid Masih that
he was  tortured to confess to the murder;
- expressing concern that the court proceedings reportedly fell
far below international standards of fairness;
- recognizing the serious nature of the alleged offence and the
suffering of the victim's family, but stating your unconditional
opposition to the death penalty, as the ultimate cruel, inhuman
and degrading punishment and violation of the right to life;
- calling for an immediate moratorium on all executions in the
country, in accordance with the UN General Assembly resolution on
a moratorium on executions adopted on 18 December 2007,
reinforcing the worldwide trend towards abolition of the death

APPEALS TO (Time difference = GMT + 5 hrs / BST + 4 hrs):
President Pervez Musharraf
President House
Fax:            0092 51 9221422
E-mail:         via website:
Salutation:     Dear President Musharraf]

Gen. Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani
Chief of Army Staff
General Head Quarters,
Fax:            0092 51 921 3452
[Salutation:    Dear General Kayani]

Syed Afzal Haider
Minister of Law, Justice and Human Rights
Room 305, S-Block, Pakistan Secretariat
Islamabad, Pakistan
Fax:            0092 51 9202628 /0092 51 9201631
[Salutation:    Dear Minister]

Lodhi, High Commission for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 35-36
Lowndes Square, London SW1X 9JN.
Fax:            020 7664 9224


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