Asia

Pakistan hangs MQM worker Saulat Mirza for murder

Relatives carry the coffin of Saulat Mirza, who was sentenced to death by anti-terrorism court in 1999 for killing three people and hanged on Tuesday, after his body arrived in Karachi, Pakistan, May 12, 2015. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mirza's body was taken for burial in Karachi

Pakistan has hanged a former MQM worker convicted of murder, after delaying his execution because he implicated his party leader in the killing.

Saulat Mirza was put to death at a jail in Balochistan province on Tuesday.

He was convicted in 1999 of the killing two years earlier of Karachi's power utility service head Shahid Hamid.

Mirza was due to be hanged on 19 March but the execution was delayed after he released a video alleging the killing was ordered by MQM chief Altaf Hussain.

The video came just a week after the authorities carried out a high-profile raid on Nine-Zero, the Karachi headquarters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a powerful regional party.

Paramilitary Rangers claimed they captured a number of wanted criminals and recovered a big cache of arms in the raid.

Mr Hussain, who lives in self-imposed exile in London, has strenuously denied any involvement in the killing of Mr Hamid.

New testimony?

Image copyright AFP
Image caption His family sought to delay the execution but appeals were turned down

Officials at the maximum security Machh jail said Mirza had sought forgiveness from his guards for any hurt he may have caused them, and had farewell meetings with some of his fellow prisoners before he went to the gallows.

Mirza's execution had been put on hold in March following the release of the video and he was questioned by government investigators in jail.

Last week Mirza's wife filed an application in the Sindh High Court requesting a delay in the execution until "investigations reopened in the Shahid Hamid murder case" were concluded.

But the court turned down the request.

Mirza's video had fuelled speculation that intelligence agents were using him to implicate the MQM and its leadership.

The MQM has long been accused of using violence and intimidation to control Karachi - claims it denies.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption MQM leader Altaf Hussain has been living in exile in London for 23 years

It was not clear who made the Mirza video, or how it was leaked.

Legal experts doubted his new evidence would stand up in a court of law.

Pakistan has executed more than 100 people since a moratorium on capital punishment was lifted after the Taliban massacred school pupils in the country's bloodiest militant attack in December.

Human rights groups say more than 8,000 convicts are on death row in Pakistan.

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