Pakistani man Shafqat Hussain 'given stay of execution'

Shafqat Hussain's brother and mother
Image caption Shafqat Hussain's mother says he is innocent

A Pakistani man convicted of manslaughter as a minor and due to be hanged on Thursday has been granted a stay of execution, a charity fighting his case says.

Shafqat Hussain's lawyers say he was 14 when found guilty of killing a child in 2004 and a confession was extracted by torture.

The authorities said they had no proof he was underage when convicted.

There is no official word from the government on the stay of execution.

Maya Foa, the director of the death penalty team with the charity Reprieve, said the news was "hugely welcome".

She added: "It is, however, a shame that it took an outcry and the weight of civil society to push the [Interior] Minister into doing the right thing - just hours before Shafqat was due to be led to the gallows."

Earlier, Shafqat Hussain's mother made a plea for "a new life for her son" at a press conference.

Makhani Begum, said her son was innocent.

Image caption Shafqat Hussain's lawyers say he was a minor at the time of his conviction

"For God's sake don't deprive me of Shafqat, he is my last child," she told the news conference in Muzaffarabad, in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, where the family comes from.

Shafqat Hussain was granted a stay of execution in January while the government investigated his case, but his lawyers and relatives say they were not contacted.

Reprieve says the latest stay of execution, which it says was confirmed by a government minister, was in order for officials to investigate whether Shafqat Hussain was underage when he was convicted.

His legal team said they have submitted documents proving that he was a minor, the BBC's Shaimaa Khalil in Islamabad reports.

Pakistan lifted its moratorium on the death penalty in all capital cases earlier this month, after restarting executions for terrorism offences in the wake of the Taliban school massacre in Peshawar last December.

More than 150 people were killed in the attack, most of them children.

Human rights groups say Pakistan has the world's largest number of death row inmates, with more than 8,000 people awaiting execution.

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