In conclusion of a case that is garnering the attention of the world media, Aftab Bahadur Masih , 38, is to be executed by the state of Pakistan earlyWednesday morning. On 5th September, 1992, at the time of a triple murder in Lahore, Aftab worked at Raju Sanitary Store as an apprentice plumber. The victims belonged to a family of well-connected Kashmiri traders in Anarkali Lahore, and the case which was politicised heavily, was referred to a special court.

Aftab’s government issued birth certificate and NADRA ID card record his date of birth as 30th June, 1977 which made him 15 years old in September 1992 at the time of the offence. The legitimacy of the birth certificate is not disputed.

Aftab was implicated in the case by his co- accused Ghulam Mustafa and a witness, both of whom have recanted their earlier testimonies as being taken under police duress and torture. Aftab has maintained his innocence for 23 years, stating consistently that all evidence presented against him was fabricated by the police.

“It is clear that the safety of our justice system is seriously compromised. We need to introduce a safety valve to create the possibility of correcting miscarriage of justice even when a case has been disposed of by the highest court,” argues Babar Sattar, a lawyer based in Islamabad. After the lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty following a school attack in Peshawar late last year, Pakistan’s 8,000 strong convicts on death row now await execution with more than 150 already hanged. The age of convicts is often wrongfully recorded at the time of arrest, leading to juveniles facing illegal death sentences, according to research conducted by the Society for the Protection of Children’s Rights in Pakistan.

The trial took place under the now repealed and heavily criticised Speedy Trials Act of 1991, wherein the police were required to submit the results of their investigation to the Special Court in 14 days or be held responsible for wilful disobedience of the order. Following this, the court was required to make its findings within 30 days.

The Speedy Trials Act is alleged to have led to an increase in torture induced confessions and implications which are illegal in Pakistan, and against the UN Convention against Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment (CAT) to which Pakistan is a signatory. Furthermore, Aftab’s lawyers argue that the act violated Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) providing insufficient time for a meaningful review of Aftab's conviction. In this case, it led to a failure by Aftab’s counsel to bring up his juvenility during the case proceedings.

Moments ago, it was reported that Sahiwal prison was refusing to accede to a court order allowing lawyers from Justice Project Pakistan to see one of the witnesses – prisoner Ghulam Mustafa – who wished to sign a statement exonerating Aftab.

Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at human rights organisation, Reprieve, said:

"The President has just hours to save the life of a man who even the key witnesses at his trial now say is entirely innocent. The problems with Aftab’s case are shocking, from his arrest and torture as a child, to the torture of witnesses in order to secure a conviction, 23 years spent on death row – and now, the authorities’ attempt to prevent his exoneration."

Religious leaders from the US, UK and Pakistan are now calling on the authorities to immediately halt the execution. After two decades facing the death penalty, Aftab Bahadur Masih is set to be executed at 4.30 am on Wednesday, the 10th of June. His mercy petition has been submitted to the President and awaits response.