A storm of protests from rights groups waged up in Pakistan after a man convicted of killing a 7-year-old boy was executed on Tuesday in the city of Muzaffarabad, the main town of the Pakistani administered part of Kashmir.
Shafqat Hussain was hanged shortly before dawn at a jail in Karachi for killing the child in the city in 2004, his brother and a prison official told Associated France Press (AFP).
Rights groups say that Shafqat’s confession was false and it had been extracted by torture and he was only15 at the time of the killing. The case raised protests from the United Nations.
Hussain’s family was distraught by the execution of their son, in Muzaffarabad, the main town of the Pakistani administered part of Kashmir.
His sister Sumaira Bibi said crying and beating her chest, "Why did they hang my innocent brother, only because we were poor?" she said.
His mother Makhni Begum, stunned by the news of the execution after seeing her son reprieved from the gallows four times since January.
"My son was innocent, only Allah will prove his innocence in his court," she told AFP.
"We can't do anything but they [executioners] will face Allah on the day of judgement."
United Nations rights experts urged Pakistan not to hang him without investigating the torture claims, as well as his age. They said Hussein's trial "fell short of international standards."
Gul Zaman, Shafqat's brother said that his brother continued to protest his innocence in their last meeting, just a few hours before he was hanged.
"I never even touched the boy -- I want to let the world know this as I lay down my life," the last words said Shafqat as Zaman told AFP.
Another of Hussain's brothers claimed that the hanging had not been carried out properly.
"Half of his neck is separated from his body." he said.
A last-minute plea to President Mamnoon Hussain was made by the Kashmir government late on Monday to postpone the execution, but to no avail.
Hussain was expected to be hanged in January but the verdict was reprieved four times as his lawyers fought to prove he was under 18 at the time of the offence and he is therefore not to be executed according to the Pakistani law.
Amnesty International accused the government of "callous indifference" to human life, while British anti-death penalty campaign group Reprieve said the hanging represented "all that is wrong with Pakistan's race to the gallows."
Around 180 convicts most of them children since ending a six-year moratorium on executions in December after Taliban militants massacred more than 150 people at a school.