Zulfiqar Ali, the Pakistani national who is on death row in Indonesia, has been diagnosed with stage-4 liver cancer, Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) said in a press release on Monday.
The 53-year-old, who was arrested in Indonesia on drug-related charges in 2004, is already suffering from chronic liver cirrhosis and Diabetes Mellitus, the press release reads. Given his condition, doctors have estimated his life expectancy to be three months.
The JPP, a human rights organisation that provides free-of-cost legal counsel to “vulnerable Pakistani prisoners” in overseas jails, also urged the Pakistani government to address Ali’s case during Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s visit to Pakistan later this month.
Ali’s case came to light in 2016, when Indonesia notified the Pakistani embassy in Jakarta that he would be executed in a case related to a 300-gram heroin. However, his execution was halted after rights groups and the United Nations appealed to the Indonesian government, followed by diplomatic intervention from Pakistan’s government.
He was arrested at his home without a warrant in Indonesia’s West Java province. For three days, he was “kicked, punched and threatened with death” by the Soekarno-Hatta Airport district police until he was forced to sign a “self-incriminating confession”, the JPP said.
The organisation at the time had said that Ali had to be rushed into an emergency stomach and kidney surgery due to the severity of the physical torture he was subjected to. He remained in the hospital for 17 days, for which the expenses had to be borne by his family, and he still suffered from a number of medical issues as a result.
“Ali, the father of six, was not provided a lawyer for a month, and no one from the Pakistan embassy was contacted. He was detained for over three months before being brought to the first trial hearing. And even though his confession was coerced, as Ali recalled in detail during the trial, the judge allowed it to be used as evidence.”
The JPP had said Ali did not speak the local language and received limited translation assistance throughout his detention and court proceedings.
“Ali told the prosecutor that the report against him was false and had been obtained through torture. During the proceedings, the prosecutor asked him to admit whatever the police said, saying that otherwise he would be given a higher sentence. Ali told the court that he had been tortured by the police. Photographs were available to the court which evidenced this. When he refused to accept the report, a bribe of 400 million Indonesian rupiahs was demanded to reduce the sentence from capital punishment to 10-15 years. Ali refused to pay the bribe and continued to proclaim his innocence.”
After the case was highlighted by rights groups, the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif made a last-ditch effort to make the Indonesian government halt the execution that was successful.