LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistan on Tuesday hanged a man who said he was 15 when he was arrested for a murder he did not commit in the latest case to shine a spotlight on Pakistan’s haphazard justice system.
Ansar Iqbal had said he and a friend were arrested 16 years ago for the murder of a neighbor. The victim’s family said Iqbal killed the neighbor over an argument at a cricket match but Iqbal said police framed him by planting two guns at his house.
Iqbal was hanged in the morning in the central Pakistani city of Sargodha and his body had been handed over to his family, authorities said.
Pakistani law does not allow the execution of someone arrested as a juvenile. The court did not examine Iqbal’s school records and birth certificate which give his age at 14 and 15 respectively, saying the documents were submitted too late.
“All the documentary evidence provided to the courts during his trial or appeal indicates that he was a child at the time of the alleged offence; however, the courts have chosen to believe the estimate of police officers that he was in his 20s,” British legal aid group Reprieve said in a statement.
Pakistan brought back hanging in December as a way to crack down on militancy after Taliban gunmen killed more than 130 pupils at an army-run school.
But very few of the 240 people hanged since had any links to militancy.
Most, like Iqbal, were convicted of murder. Many of their families say they were falsely accused and too poor to get good lawyers.
Pakistan’s criminal justice system is widely considered corrupt. Police frequently ask for bribes and few are trained in preserving a crime scene or collecting evidence. Instead, they rely on easily manipulated oral statements. Accusations of torture are common.
Reporting by Mubasher Bukhari; Writing by Mehreen Zahra-Malik; Editing by Nick Macfie