06/13/2015, 00.00
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EU and Pakistan clash over death penalty, Islamabad says no to moratorium

The Foreign Ministry spokesman rejects Brussels call for end of executions. For Islamabad it is "in compliance" with international law and respect of the country's internal affairs. In recent days the execution of a young Catholic for a murder he did not commit.

Islamabad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The controversy continues over Pakistan’s recent resumption of executions- in the context of the fight against terrorism launched by the government - after a moratorium period of several years after the massacre at military school in Peshawar .

More than 150 children, teachers and staff died in the Taliban attack; an event that provoked outrage across the country. Yesterday the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad rejected the European Union call for a ban the death penalty, noting that it "conforms" to international law.

Ministry spokesman Qazi Khalilulla, said that only those who were convicted of heinous and serious crimes are subjected to capital punishment. Moreover, adds the politician, the decision to impose the death sentence "is an internal matter of Pakistan" and outside interference will not be tolerated.

The statement by the Foreign Ministry spokesman is a response to the request made the previous day by Brussels, urging Islamabad to reintroduce a moratorium on executions and to respect all international obligations to which it is subjected. The European Union also expressed great concern about the increasing number of convictions brought to fruition in the country.

The European Union once again confirmed its strong opposition to the death penalty for any crime or offense and relaunched the campaign for its abolition worldwide.

According to Brussels since December 2014, Pakistan has executed at least 150 people. Since the end of the moratorium, Islamabad has introduced the hanging for crimes related to terrorism, then extended it to all cases of capital punishment sentenced by the courts.

The recent story of the young Catholic hanged by Islamabad, although he always maintained his innocence, to an (alleged) murder committed when he was only 15 years old, has aroused deep anger. In a moving letter written in prison the day before the execution and published by AsiaNews, Aftab Bahadur Masih said: "I am innocent, but I do not know if this will make any difference. I want my people to have a sense of national unity capable of defeating this religious hatred. "

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