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Rights Groups Plead For Life Of Condemned Pakistani

Rights groups and church leaders on June 9 urged Pakistan to halt the imminent execution of a man for a murder committed in 1992, saying his conviction was flawed.

The plea for mercy for Aftab Bahadur Masih, who is due to be hanged on June 10, comes after another death-row prisoner was granted a last-minute reprieve.

The Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), a human rights law firm handling his case, says Masih was only 15 when he was detained for murder in the eastern city of Lahore 23 years ago.

The JPP says he was convicted on the basis of confessions extracted through torture from two people, who have since retracted their statements.

Church leaders also appealed for a reprieve for Masih, who is a Christian.

The Roman Catholic bishop of Karachi, Joseph Coutts, has written to President Mamnoon Hussain asking for Masih's hanging to be delayed so his case can be investigated.

Earlier on June 9, Shafqat Hussain, sentenced to hang for killing a seven-year-old boy in Karachi in 2004, had an 11th-hour stay of execution.

Hussain's supporters say he was a juvenile when the crime was committed and was also tortured into confessing.

Based on reporting by AFP and