Pakistan hangs 15, highest number since executions resumed

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 21, 2015 8:12 AM

LAHORE (Reuters) - Pakistan hanged 15 people on Tuesday, officials said, the largest number of people executed on the same day since an unofficial moratorium on capital punishment was lifted in December.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lifted a de facto moratorium on capital punishment on Dec. 17, a day after Pakistani Taliban gunmen attacked a school and killed 153 people, most of them children. The killings put pressure on the government to do more to tackle an Islamist insurgency.

Initially, it was only people convicted of militant offences who were executed but officials later said any prisoner on death row whose appeals had been rejected could be executed.

The inspector general of prisons in Punjab province, Farooq Nazir, told Reuters 14 people who had been convicted of "heinous crimes" had been hanged in the province.

One person was hanged in Baluchistan province, an official there said.

The executions brought the number of people hanged in Pakistan since December to 95, the Justice Project Pakistan legal aid group said, citing media reports.

The moratorium on executions had been in place since a democratic government took power from a military ruler in 2008.

Human rights groups say many convictions in Pakistan are highly unreliable.

The country's antiquated criminal justice system barely functions, torture has often been used to extract confessions and police are rarely trained in investigation, rights officials say.

There are more than 8,000 Pakistanis on death row.

(Reporting by Mubasher Bukari, additional reporting by Gul Yusufzai; Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Nick Macfie)