ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's highest court on Monday refused to halt the execution of the country's first known paraplegic death-row convict, a decision handed down one day before he's scheduled to be hanged at a high-security prison, according to a lawyer and an international rights group.
Abdul Basit, 43, has been paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair since contracting meningitis in prison in 2010, said Sara Belal, a lawyer at the Justice Project Pakistan legal aid group. He has been on death row since 2009 after being convicted of murdering a man in a financial dispute in Punjab province.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan rejected a plea to grant a stay of execution for Basit, according to Belal and the human rights group Reprieve. Court officials could not be reached for comment after hours Monday.
Basit's mother Nusrat Perveen told The Associated Press they met with him for the final time on Monday at a jail in the city of Faisalabad and said their last hope was a pardon from President Mamnoon Hussain.
"I beg to the president to pardon my son," she said. "My son was a healthy man but he became disabled in jail."
Perveen said jail officials told her they will hang Basit before dawn Tuesday.
Basit's lawyers had previously filed a petition arguing that hanging him would constitute cruel and inhuman punishment.
Amnesty International urged Pakistan to halt Basit's execution and called for a moratorium on all executions in the country.
"Instead of debating the logistics of how to put a man in a wheelchair to death, the authorities in Pakistan should grant reprieve to Abdul Basit," Sultana Noon, Amnesty International's Pakistan researcher, said in a statement. "This case has once again drawn widespread attention to the cruelty of the relentless conveyer belt of executions in Pakistan."
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, authorities have hanged 236 people after lifting a 2008 moratorium on executions in December after a deadly Taliban attack on a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar killed 150 people, mostly children.
But only one in 10 of the 236 prisoners executed since December were convicted of a terror attack.
Meanwhile, Pakistan's military in a statement Monday that military courts had handed down death sentences to nine "hard core terrorists" who had killed civilians and security officials.
Basit's family members told The Associated Press they met with him for the final time on Monday and said their last hope was a pardon from President Mamnoon Hussain.