Pak undecided on commuting death sentences

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Islamabad, July 15 : The Pakistan Government has not yet approved a decision to commute all pending death sentences to life imprisonment, the country's Attorney-General Malik Mohammad Qayyum told the Supreme Court on Monday July 14.

He requested the Apex Court to grant two weeks' time to take a final decision in this regard, saying that he could not consult the prime minister or the federal law minister on the matter as both were abroad, reported the Dawn. A three-member Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, Justice Mohammad Qaim Jan Khan and Justice Chaudhry Ejaz Yousaf, is hearing a suo motu case taken up on reports that the decision would benefit 7000 death-row prisoners.

On June 21, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani had announced that the government intended to recommend to the president to commute death sentences of all prisoners into life imprisonment as a tribute to Benazir Bhutto.

On July 6, the chief justice had ordered the attorney-general and ministries of interior and law to explain the government's position on the matter.

According to a leading legal expert, the Apex Court had taken action because it could not take decisions on a large number of appeals filed by convicts who had been awarded death sentences. The court later adjourned the case till August 1.


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