Prison officials in Pakistan have missed a deadline to explain how they would hang a paraplegic man. Abdul Basit, 41, is on death row after being convicted of murder in 2009, but he is paralysed from the waist down after contracting tubercular meningitis in prison.
Mr Basit has always maintained his innocence and human rights group Reprieve has urged Pakistan to "halt its grisly experiment with the gallows". Mr Basit's lawyer has argued that his execution would constitute "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, prohibited under Pakistani and international law".
"Basit's lawyers contend that he has already suffered unusual punishment, and to try to execute him now would be a form of 'double punishment', and a breach of Pakistani law," said Reprieve. Maya Foa, director of Reprieve's death penalty team, has said that Mr Basit's hanging would be a "grotesque spectacle" and "cruel injustice".
Speaking to the BBC, Ms Foa said: "The fact that officials are prepared to hang Basit, without a clear protocol for doing so, shows they are even prepared to bend Pakistan's law to breaking point."
In December 2014, Pakistan resumed capital punishment after a seven-year moratorium and has executed more than 200 people since it was reintroduced. The government said it was in response to a Taliban massacre of 150 people, mostly children, at a Peshawar school. There are currently 8,261 on death row in Pakistan – more than any other place in the world – and the country's jail manual does not provide instructions on how to execute disabled prisoners.
Several questions surround the proposed state killing of Mr Basit. These include how Mr Basit will be expected to make his way to the gallows, what sort of a drop he would need and whether he will be afforded any dignity given that he is unable to control his sphincter.
Earlier this month, Pakistan hanged Shafqat Hussain, who had been accused of kidnapping and killing a seven-year-old boy, despite being a minor himself at the time. His lawyers said that a confession had been extracted by torture.