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Thursday, 16 March, 2000, 14:49 GMT
Few executions in Pakistan

Court rulings are often successfully challenged
By South Asia analyst Alastair Lawson

The Pakistani interior minister has said he will challenge a judge's ruling that serial killer Javed Iqbal should die in the same manner as his victims.

Death sentences and convictions are frequently challenged successfully in Pakistan.

While few commentators believe Javed Iqbal will escape the gallows, the number of criminals executed in Pakistan in comparison to many other Asian countries is low.


Javed Iqbal's lawyer plans to appeal
Figures released by the office of the human rights campaigner, Asma Jehangir, show that between January 1999 and January 2000, only about 15 people were actually executed.

That is despite the fact that hundreds of prisoners in Pakistan have been sentenced to death.

Many defendants appeal against their conviction and sentence, a process which takes up to 10 years on average, human rights campaigners say.

Evidence challenged

The position of condemned prisoners - especially those with the money to hire reputable lawyers - is also strengthened by the fact that many are sentenced by courts where the precise letter of the law is not followed.

There are three kinds of court in Pakistan that can pass the death penalty: the sessions courts, the anti-terrorism courts and the drug courts.


Police inconsistencies are used to overrule convictions
Defence lawyers in appeal courts are frequently able to have the death sentences passed by all three commuted because judicial procedure has been incorrectly administered, or police evidence found to contain inconsistencies.

Commentators point out that the nature of the punishment passed down on Javed Iqbal is a good example of this.

It is also highly unlikely, they say, that he will be cut into bits and dissolved in acid.

Those who are executed in Pakistan are invariably criminals who have killed several times.

Few people in the country have been sent to the gallows for sectarian or religious murders.

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See also:

01 Mar 00 | South Asia
Eyewitness: Trying a serial killer
02 Mar 00 | South Asia
Taped 'confession' played to court
13 Jan 00 | South Asia
Pakistan 'serial killer confesses'
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