HRCP seeks end to death term for convict
LAHORE, March 7: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Friday urged the president and the army chief to set aside the death sentence of a convict, who is to be executed on March 12, because he was denied basic rights during his trial.
In a statement, the HRCP said Zahid Masih, a sanitary worker with Pakistan Army since 2001, was tried by a military court and sentenced to death in 2006. Masih had been denied his right to defend himself, be represented by a lawyer and was allegedly beaten to extract a confession.
Two years prior to his conviction, Masih “disappeared” from his workplace in Chirat Cantonment. His family later found him on the death row in the Peshawar Central Jail. The family learnt that he had been found guilty and sentenced to death on March 10, 2006.
Masih told his family that he had been in military custody for two years prior to his conviction and was tortured to confess to the murder. It is alleged that he was not provided any legal representative in the military trial. He was only allowed to speak to his parents after he had been sentenced to death by the military court.
He alleged that some orderlies of officers persuaded him that if he confessed to the crime, officers would help him secure his release.
When allowed to meet his family in early 2008, Masih told them that some messengers from officers of Chirat Cantonment had convinced him that he would be absolved of charges if he confessed. He alleged that another military personnel at the cantonment had committed the offence for which he had been framed for being the weakest person.
The HRCP called on President Musharraf to show clemency and set aside Masih’s execution in view of lack of representation, Masih’s illegal detention and torture in custody. The commission urged the army chief to cancel Masih’s sentence as a military court had passed it.