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British MPs ask Pakistan not to hang condemned Briton

Written by: Staff

ISLAMABAD, May 17 (Reuters) British parliamentarians have asked Pakistan to spare the life of a British national due tobe hanged for murder on June 3, officials told Reuters today.

Mirza Tahir Hussain, from Leeds in northern England and of Pakistani descent, was arrested in Rawalpindi in 1988 on charges of murdering and robbing a taxi driver who had reportedly tried to physically and sexually assault him.

''Our High Commission in London has received some letters from NGOs and parliamentarians,'' Tasnim Aslam, spokeswoman for Pakistan's foreign office, told Reuters.

Diplomatic sources said the British government is expected to request President Pervez Musharraf to commute Hussain's death sentence.

Musharraf turned down an appeal for mercy from Hussain last year, Aslam said.

Imprisoned since the age of 18, Hussain is due to be executed two days before his 36th birthday.

Though Hussain was acquitted by the High Court of the country, an Islamic Court -- the Federal Shariat Court --sentenced him to death by hanging in 1998.

The sentence was later upheld by the country's Supreme Court in 2003 which rejected a review petition a year later in 2004.

His case has been taken up by John Battle, a member of the British parliament, and Syed Kamall, a representative for London in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

''The more we look into the facts behind the trial, the more we can see that a huge miscarriage of justice has occurred,'' MEP Kamall said in a statement today.

Kamall said he had written to Pakistani High Commissioner in London, Maleela Lodhi, asking her to intercede.

Amnesty International, which has also taken up the case and is on principle against the death penalty, noted that 31 people were executed in Pakistan last year, mostly for murder, and a further 241 were sentenced to death.


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