Pakistan's only paraplegic death-row inmate 'to be executed'

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan's only paraplegic death-row inmate will be executed in the coming days at a high-security prison in the industrial city of Faisalabad, his mother and an international rights group said Saturday.

Abdul Basit, 43, has been paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair since contracting meningitis in prison in 2010. According to his lawyer and family, he has been on death row since 2009 after being convicted of killing a man over a financial dispute in Punjab province.

On Saturday, Basit's mother Nusrat Perveen said jail officials asked her to have a final meeting with her son on Tuesday before he is hanged the following morning. "I am in a state of shock. I appeal to the president and prime minister of Pakistan to pardon my son on medical and humanitarian grounds," she told The Associated Press.

The decision has been widely condemned by rights groups.

"It is bewildering that Pakistan has revived its appalling plans to hang a man who is unable to stand," said Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at Reprieve, an international human rights organization.

"Nothing has changed since Basit's execution was halted earlier this year, on the grounds that his disability could mean that he might suffer from a prolonged, needlessly cruel execution," she said.

Sara Belal, a lawyer at the Justice Project Pakistan legal aid group, also condemned the decision to once again schedule Basit for execution.

Basit's mother said she sent a mercy petition to the president weeks ago to pardon her son but received no reply. "In September, jail officials were taking my son toward the gallows on his wheelchair when his execution was halted on medical grounds," she said.

Perveen said she saw rope scars on the wrists of her son when she met with him a week after the halting of his execution. "I am again waiting for a miracle to happen," she said.

Pakistan's president has the constitutional authority to pardon any convicted person.

Pakistan has hanged nearly 300 people, most of them convicted criminals and not Taliban or other insurgents, since it lifted a 2008 moratorium on executions in December after a deadly Taliban attack on a school killed 150 people, mostly children.

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