Page last updated at 19:19 GMT, Tuesday, 17 March 2009

UK 'ignoring men's torture claim'

Naheem Hussain (left) and Rehan Zaman (rt)
Naheem Hussain and Rehan Zaman are accused of murder

The UK government has been accused of "doing nothing" to help two men from Birmingham who were allegedly tortured in police custody in Pakistan.

Naheem Hussain, 24, and Rehan Zaman, 25, face execution after apparently being forced to confess to shooting two men over a land dispute in Kashmir.

Mr Hussain's MP Clare Short rubbished the evidence and said UK authorities had done "absolutely nothing" to help.

The Foreign Office said it was in touch and providing consular assistance.

Spanish Inquisition

Human rights charity Reprieve said police in Pakistan had employed "medieval" torture methods to extract murder confessions from Mr Zaman, a student from Small Heath, Mr Hussain, of Alum Rock and his father Fazal, 56, while they were in custody at Dadyal police station.

It said the men's hands were tied behind their backs with a rope which was used to suspend them upside down from a hook, and they were then kicked, punched and whipped by their captors, in a practice known as inverse strapado - said to be favoured by the Spanish Inquisition.

We've got an appalling case of a British citizen being tortured and UK authorities doing absolutely nothing to assist him
Clare Short MP

Fazal Hussain, who is now back in the UK, said all three men had been tortured for 13 days by police who demanded money and a false confession.

Reprieve said a British doctor had confirmed his injuries which were consistent with the methods of torture he had described.

Mr Zaman and Mr Hussain are both charged with murder over the incident in Latta, Pakistan on 22 June, 2004 in which two men were shot, one of whom died.

Fazal Hussain was charged with conspiracy to murder but the charges were later dropped.

He said he paid the police chief 10,000 and was forced to sign a confession to prevent his son, who worked in the family's Birmingham grocery and video store, from being nailed to a tree.

'Do something'

He said the men were then transferred to Mirpur prison, near Kashmir, where he developed diabetes and jaundice.

He said he was given bail on health grounds and managed to escape, but the other two men were still in prison in Pakistan.

Fazal Hussain
Fazal Hussain is campaigning for the Britons' release

Fazal Hussain said at a press conference in London on Tuesday: "I appeal to the British Government. We are British citizens. Do something please."

His son's Independent MP, Clare Short, who was a cabinet minister before leaving the Labour Party, told the press conference: "We've got an appalling case of a British citizen being tortured and UK authorities doing absolutely nothing to assist him.

"And we've got firm evidence that he's not guilty of the offences committed."

Reprieve lawyers said the only evidence the Pakistani police had was "a false confession relating to a gun that had never been fired".

It said a representative from the British, Foreign and Commonwealth Office visited the men shortly after their arrest in July 2004 to bring them reading material, but it had done little to progress the case since, other than to get Reprieve lawyers involved.

The British, Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it had been in touch with Rehan Zaman, Naheem Hussain, their lawyers and the Reprieve charity since the men's arrest in 2004 and was providing consular assistance.

A spokesman added: "We take any allegations of mistreatment or tortures seriously. We take all cases where British nationals face the death penalty seriously."



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SEE ALSO
Country profile: Pakistan
17 Mar 09 |  Country profiles

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