Juvenile Pakistani Christian Bahadur Masih To Be Executed

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Early Wednesday morning, Pakistani authorities are scheduled to execute Aftab Bahadur Masih, more than two decades after he was sentenced to death for murder.

Bahadur was sentenced to death for a murder that took place in September 1992. He has now spent 23 years on death row. Alarmingly there is strong evidence to suggest that Bahadur is innocent.

Bahadur, 39, and a second man charged in the case, Ghulam Mustafa, were convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of the wife and sons of Akeel Bari, an influential business owner in Lahore.Bahadur was 15 when he was arrested. He was sentenced to death during a speedy trial.

Mr. Masih, who taught himself to draw and paint in prison, wrote an essay recently which he talked about the “limbo” of being on death row.

“I doubt there is anything more dreadful than being told that you are going to die, and then sitting in a prison cell just waiting for that moment,” Mr. Masih wrote. “For many years since I was just 15 years old I have been stranded between life and death.”

His lawyers have filed mercy petitions and appeals with several officials in Pakistan, including President Mamnoon Hussain, and are hoping they can save Bahadur from death.

The human rights body of Pakistan’s Catholic Church pleaded with President Mamnoon Hussain to grant clemency to a Christian death row convict who was a juvenile at the time of the alleged crime.

The church’s plea came three days after the Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, president of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, sent a letter to Hussain to draw attention to Bahadur’s imminent execution.