Press Trust of india

Rights groups see red as Pak court issues death warrant to mentally ill prisoner

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Islamabad, Jun 16: A court in Pakistan has issued a death warrant to a mentally unwell prisoner, paving the way for his execution on June18 amidst growing concern among human rights groups, a media report said on Sunday.

Ghulam Abbas, 36, a death row prisoner languishing in a jail for13 years, was sentenced to death in 2006 by a district and sessions court in Rawalpindi for stabbing one of his neighbours.

Abbas, who has clear symptoms of mental illness, was issued the death warrant by the session court in Rawalpindi, Dawn news reported.

Following the death warrant, there have been calls from human rights organisations to halt the execution considering the mental illness of the prisoner.

Justice Projects Pakistan, an human rights law firm, said that Abbas' execution should be stayed and he should be transferred to a mental health facility.

“Abbas' execution must be stayed and he should be transferred to a mental health facility to be comprehensively assessed,” Sarah Belal from JPP was quoted as saying by the paper.

Malik Hussain Mubbashar, a psychiatrist appointed by the Supreme Court in the case, said the medical examination records showed that jail authorities had treated him with strong anti-psychotic drugs.

He said that Abbas had a genetic predisposition to mental illness because of his family history of mental illness.

“It is imperative I be allowed to visit Abbas in jail to assess his mental health and physical condition. In my professional opinion, he should be shifted to the Centre for Mental Health, Benazir Bhutto Hospital, Rawalpindi, for proper care,” he said.

A fresh mercy petition has been filed requesting the president to grant him a reprieve.

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