Despite last-minute pleas to save his life, a convicted killer who some say may have been innocent was hanged in a Pakistan prison early today. Shafqat Hussain, convicted of kidnapping and murdering a 7-year-old boy in 2004, reportedly confessed to police, though his lawyer says he only did so under torture. Others argue Hussain was 14 at the time of his arrest, which should have meant the death penalty was off the table, per the Guardian. Though the country's top court previously reviewed Hussain's case, "Pakistan authorities have never undertaken a proper, judicial investigation into either issue," rights group Justice Project Pakistan says, noting police refused to release Hussain's school record, which would've confirmed his age. Authorities maintain Hussain was 23 at the time of the crime.
Hussain's execution was delayed four times, including once last month, as controversy erupted, reports the New York Times. Advocates had urged officials to review his case over the last several days. Prison officials say he was granted a final meeting with family members before becoming one of nearly 200 people put to death since a six-year moratorium on executions was lifted in Pakistan in December. The European Union says executions are now being performed at an "alarming pace." "The trial of Shafqat Hussain sums up the structural flaws in our criminal justice system, where police torture and confessions under duress are the norm," says a Pakistani analyst. "Here is a case where a poor family was unable to pursue a criminal case that requires resources and access to influential people within the state." (Read more Pakistan stories.)