Pakistan's Supreme Court has blocked the execution of a paranoid schizophrenic who was convicted of murder.
The October 31 ruling stays the execution, scheduled for November 2, pending a review of an earlier ruling confirming the death sentence that had argued schizophrenia is not a "permanent mental illness."
Local human rights watchdog Justice Project Pakistan confirmed that Imdad Ali, 50, has suffered from paranoid schizophrenia since 2002. He was convicted for the murder of a cleric in 2001. Following his conviction in 2012, a panel of government doctors certified that he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.
"The findings of the court that schizophrenia can be treated is against medical science," Ali’s council Syed Iqbal Ali Shah Gilani said of his argument in the petition.
Zainab Malik, head of advocacy at Justice Project Pakistan, welcomed the decision.
“It will be integral in showing Pakistan's commitment to its international human rights obligations,” she noted.
The court is now scheduled to hear the case in the second week of November.
Ali’s lawyers and rights activists argue that he should not be executed because he is unable to understand his crime and punishment. They say his execution would violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Pakistan is a signatory to the UN treaty.
Islamabad ended a virtual moratorium on capital punishment in 2014 after the Pakistani Taliban massacred more than 150 students and teachers. The December 2014 attack at the Army Public School in the northwestern city of Peshawar is considered one of the worst terrorist atrocities in Pakistan, where a decade-old Taliban and Al-Qaeda insurgency has killed more than 60,000 civilians and soldiers. Millions more were displaced.
Some 425 people have been hanged since January 2015.
-- With reporting by Reuters and dpa