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Pakistani officer faces execution

ISLAMABAD, Oct. 6 -- A Pakistani army captain convicted of murdering nine villagers in cold blood four years ago faces execution after his last appeal was rejected Sunday by the Supreme Court. Capt. Arshad Jameel was court-martialed for using a law-and-order cleanup operation in Sindh province in 1992 as an excuse to settle a personal score. On June 5, 1992, Jameel and members of his squad shot dead nine residents of the village of Tando Bahawal over a land dispute.

A field general court-martial sentenced him to death and convicted other members of his squad on lesser charges. The case led to two more deaths last month. On Sept. 11, two women relatives of the slain villagers set themselves on fire in front of a civil court in Hyderabad, Sindh, to protest a series of delays in executing the captain. Zaibunnisa and Hakim Zadi both died within 10 days of being hospitalized with severe burns. When the Pakistani president rejected his two mercy petitions, Jameel appealed his case before a string of courts. He was encouraged when the Federal Shariat Court ruled it was un-Islamic to deny the right of appeal to a defendant convicted by a military court. On Sunday, a three-member bench of Pakistan's Supreme Court decided in favor of the prosecution. Justices then lifted a stay order, clearing the way for Jameel's execution.

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