Reprieve welcomes stay of execution for Mirza Tahir Hussain, but calls for permanent solution.

October 19, 2006

Human rights charity Reprieve has welcomed the news that President Musharraf has granted a two-month stay of execution for Mirza Tahir Hussain, the British national on death row in Pakistan, but warns that efforts must continue to find a lasting solution to the case.

The stay, which expires on 1st January 2007, comes less than two weeks before Mr. Hussain was due to be executed. It is the fourth in a series of recent stays granted by the President. It means that Mr. Hussain will not be executed during the forthcoming visit to Pakistan by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

Reprieve’s Legal Director Clive Stafford Smith, said, “We certainly welcome this stay, but this is far from a satisfactory solution. Over the years, I have seen the devastating effect that the constant setting of execution dates has on death row prisoners. This type of yo-yoing is inhumane.”

Zachary Katznelson, Reprieve’s Senior Counsel, who has recently returned from visiting Tahir said: “During my recent visit with Tahir on death row, it was clear that all the uncertainty surrounding his execution date is taking a terrible psychological toll. This injustice must be corrected and a true solution found. Mr Hussain must be removed from death row as soon as possible. 18 years is enough”.

Mr. Hussain is from Leeds and served in the Territorial Army. At the age of 18, he decided to visit family in Pakistan, and hired a taxi to take him to the village of Bhubar, near Rawalpindi. On the way, the taxi driver attempted to sexually assault him at gunpoint. During the ensuing struggle, the gun went off, injuring the taxi driver, who later died. Mr. Hussain was subsequently tried and sentenced to death. After several appeals, his conviction was quashed by the High Court. However, shortly before Mr. Hussain was due to be released, the driver’s family intervened and succeeded in having Mr. Hussain’s case transferred to Pakistan’s parallel Sharia religious courts. In 1998, the Sharia court by a 2 to 1 vote once again sentenced Mr. Hussain to death. The dissenter lambasted the decision as a “miscarriage of justice”.

-ENDS-

Notes for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

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