The authorities issued a death warrant for a mentally ill condemned prisoner on Wednesday after the Supreme Court ruled that his schizophrenia is “not a permanent mental disorder”.
Lawyers and rights groups say convicted murderer Imdad Ali, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia while in prison in 2012, cannot be executed as he cannot understand his crime and punishment.
Ali’s death warrant was issued by a criminal court on the request of the provincial Punjab government, said a statement by The Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), which is providing Ali with counsel.
It follows a ruling last week by Pakistan’s top court that said schizophrenia was a “recoverable disease” that could be treated by drugs, and not a mental disorder.
He will now be executed on November 2 in a prison in the city of Vehari, the JPP said.
Ali, aged 50, was sentenced to death for the murder of a religious cleric in 2002.
He had been sentenced to hang last month, but received a last-minute stay of execution by the Supreme Court, before that expired last week.
Rights groups have slammed the ruling, with Amnesty calling it “a deeply worrying development”.
Maya Foa, a Director of Reprieve, last week called the Supreme Court ruling “outrageous” and said it flies in the face of accepted medical knowledge – including in Pakistan.
Pakistan reinstated the death penalty and established military courts after suffering its deadliest-ever extremist attack when gunmen stormed a school in the north-west in 2014 and killed more than 150 people – mostly children.
Hangings were initially reinstated only for those convicted of terrorism, but later extended to all capital offences, with over 400 people hung from more than 8,000 death row prisoners.
The JPP has already sent a mercy petition to President Mamnoon Hussain along with testimony from medical experts. It remains pending with his office since September 19.
Ali has spent 14 years on death row, with three years in solitary confinement in the jail hospital due to his schizophrenia.