Pakistani death-row prisoner in Indonesia diagnosed with cancer: rights group

A Pakistani national on death-row in Indonesia prion has been diagnosed with stage four cancer, according to the Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) on Monday.

Zulfiqar Ali, 53, was taken into custody in the country on drug-related charges back in 2004. He was already suffering from chronic liver and Diabetes Mellitus.

In view of his condition, doctors have said that he only has three more months to live.

The human rights organisation provides free-of-cost legal counsel to “vulnerable Pakistani prisoners” in overseas jails.

The JPP wanted the government to address the case during Indonesian President Joko Widodo recent visit to Pakistan.

His case came to the fray back in 2016 when Indonesia told Pakistani embassy in Jakarta that he would be executed for being convicted on charges of possession of 300-grammes of heroin.

His execution was stayed after rights groups and the United Nations implored the Indonesian government, after which Islamabad also intervened.

Ali was arrested from his home without a warrant in Java province.

For three days, he was “kicked, punched and threatened with death” by the Soekarno-Hatta Airport district police until he was forced to sign a “self-incriminating confession”, the JPP said.

Govt failed Pakistanis in foreign prisons

He was rushed to hospital where he had stomach and kidney surgery due to the seriousness of the torture he was subjected to.

Consequently, he was in the hospital for 17 days, for which the expenses had to be paid by his family.

“Ali, a father of six, was not provided a lawyer for a month, and no one from the Pakistan embassy was contacted. He was detained for over three months before being brought to the first trial hearing,” it said, adding, “And even though his confession was coerced, as Ali recalled in detail during the trial, the judge allowed it to be used as evidence.”

The JPP went on to say that Ali did not speak the local language and received limited translation assistance throughout his detention and court proceedings.

He told the prosecutor that the report against him was false and had been obtained through torture.

During the proceedings, the prosecutor asked him to admit whatever the police said, stating that otherwise he would be given a higher sentence.

Ali told the court that he had been tortured by the police. Photographs were available to the court which evidenced this.

When he refused to accept the report, a bribe of 400 million Indonesian rupiahs was demanded to reduce the sentence from capital punishment to 10-15 years.

He refused to pay the bribe and continued to proclaim his innocence.

After the case was highlighted by rights groups, the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif made a last-ditch effort to make the Indonesian government halt the execution that was successful.

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