Islamabad, Feb 10 (efe-epa).- The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday commuted the death sentences of two mentally ill people who have spent decades on death row.
The convicts, Imdad Ali and Kanizan Bibi are diagnosed as schizophrenic and sentenced to death in separate murder cases.
“We hold that if a condemned prisoner, due to mental illness, is found to be unable to comprehend the rationale and reason behind his/her punishment, then carrying out the death sentence will not meet the ends of justice,” the judges said in their ruling.
Imdad Ali, 54, was handed the death penalty for killing a cleric in 2002, and his case caused a huge international uproar when he received this sentence despite being diagnosed with schizophrenia.
The execution of Ali, whose appeals have been repeatedly rejected by courts along with a clemency request to the president, has been postponed on several occasions amid controversy surrounding his situation.
Ali’s death sentence was commuted to life, which in Pakistan means 25 years, of which he has already served almost 20.
Meanwhile, Bibi, who was also convicted of murder and whose death sentence was also commuted to life imprisonment, has already spent 30 years behind bars.
The court instructed both prisoners to be transferred to a medical facility until their release.
The cases of Ali and Bibi made headlines in Pakistan for the treatment of mentally ill convicts.
In 2016, the Supreme Court established that it was possible to execute schizophrenics as it was not an irreversible illness, only to reverse the ruling two years later.
Pakistan has executed more than 500 people since lifting a ban on the death penalty in 2014.
Then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lifted the moratorium on the death penalty towards the end of 2014, following a Taliban attack on a school that killed 125 children, for terrorism-related offenses. The order was later extended to cover all death penalty offenses. EFE