Pakistan court stays execution of mentally ill convict

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A Pakistani court on Thursday stayed the execution of a mentally ill convict who was sentenced to death in 2003 for murdering a fellow police officer over a land dispute, a rights group said.

The order from the Lahore High Court came just days before the scheduled execution of 55-year-old ex-police officer Khizar Hayat, said Wassam Waheed, a spokesman for the Justice Project Pakistan.

The court order also asked the government to provide a new report on the convicted man's health by Jan. 30, said Waheed, adding that the group was "relieved to hear" of the temporary reprieve.

Hayat's mother, Iqbal Bano, urged President Mamnoon Hussain to pardon her son. She said she visited her son in prison and that he "doesn't know what is going to happen to him, he is not in a stable state of mind."

"My son needs medical treatment, not execution," she told The Associated Press.

Last year, Pakistan's Supreme Court stayed the execution of Imdad Ali, a convict diagnosed with schizophrenia. Pakistani and international rights groups have also pleaded for a pardon for Ali.

A court-mandated medical board in July confirmed that Hayat suffers from a mental illness.

Sarah Belal, the executive director of Justice Project Pakistan, said Hayat's execution would be "unlawful and inhumane."

Pakistani and international rights groups have for years called for a ban on executions in this South Asian country. Pakistani authorities have executed 427 prisoners since 2014, when they lifted that ban on the death penalty following a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar that killed 150 people, nearly all of them schoolchildren.

Pakistan is now considered to be one of the world's top executioners.

Maya Foa, the director of the London-based rights group Reprieve, welcomed Thursday's court ruling, but said the case was "yet another example of how Pakistan's death penalty system is broken. Since the authorities' execution spree began two years ago, there have been disastrous miscarriages of justice, including the hanging of juveniles and innocent people."