Karachi, Pakistan
Karachi, Pakistan

Pakistan carried out the execution of a man convicted of killing a child in 2004 despite international criticism of the case and questions about whether the man was himself a minor at the time of the boy's death.

Official Iqbal Hassan said Shafqat Hussain was hanged shortly before dawn on Tuesday at a Karachi prison.

Hussain's relatives were allowed to visit him for the last time on Monday evening.? His family said he was 14 years old when the boy was killed, and that authorities tortured him into falsely confessing to the crime.

The execution had been postponed four times while the government investigated Hussain's age.

Human rights groups urged Pakistan to grant Hussain clemency, saying the courts did not exclude evidence obtained during torture.

They also argued that with the lack of definitive information about his age, he should be given the benefit of the doubt and be assumed a minor at the time of the killing and thus not be eligible for the death penalty.

Pakistan had a moratorium on capital punishment, in place from 2008, until last December, but lifted it following a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar killed 150 people. Since then, authorities have executed nearly 200 inmates.

The European Union's delegation to Pakistan expressed concern about the executions in a letter last week, saying they are occurring "at an alarming pace."

The EU opposes the death penalty in all cases.

Some material for this report came from AP.