After more than seven years in prison without trial and having suffered torture at the hands of the police, Naheem Hussain and Rehan Zaman are currently facing execution in Pakistan.
The case against Naheem and Rehan is extraordinarily weak and stems from a dispute concerning Naheem’s family land in Pakistan. Naheem’s father, Fazal, was born and raised on this family land in the village of Ratta, in Azad-Kashmir. When Fazal moved to the UK, where he spent his working life as a small business owner in Birmingham, he left the land in the care of his step-sister.
Many years later Fazal retired and returned to the village, taking his son Naheem with him. Confusion arose about the ownership of the family land; Fazal gathered documentation and called a family meeting. Shortly before the meeting two family members – Fazal’s step-sister’s husband and her son – were both shot. The police arrested Fazal, Naheem and Naheem’s friend Rehan Zaman. The police said the land dispute provided the men with a motive, while Fazal and Naheem believe they were set up in an attempt to take the land.
Strong evidence suggests that Naheem and Rehan are not guilty. At Didyal police station, the police beat Naheem savagely and jumped on his stomach with boots on; Fazal and Rehan heard him screaming through the walls. When Naheem failed to confess, the police tortured all three men relentlessly for two weeks, frequently beating Naheem and Fazal in front of each other, which both father and son found particularly distressing. Techniques used included falaka (whipping the foot with a rod or cane rendering them unable to walk), ‘inverse strappado’ (being hung from a hook and kicked and punched repeatedly, causing shoulders to dislocate), cigarettes extinguished on their skin and fingernails pulled out. Others involved ropes used to pull their legs apart and wood turned like a garrotte to effectively paralyze the legs. The men frequently passed out and water was thrown on them until they revived. The police also threatened to simply shoot them, explaining to Rehan that they would get away with it because they would claim that they tried to escape.
After two weeks, Naheem and Rehan were taken to a graveyard and told to confess. They were told that Naheem’s wife and mother – and Rehan’s 80 year old grandmother – would be arrested and tortured. Two guns had been planted in the graveyard, which the men were forced to identify as the murder weapons; later ballistics testing proved that these guns could not have been used in the crimes. Meanwhile Fazal also cracked; the police were threatening to nail Naheem to a tree. Desperate to see his son’s suffering end, Fazal wrote the Police Chief a cheque for over £10,000 and signed a "confession" stating that he had instigated the murders. Naheem was also forced to sign a document, although he was unable to read it as it was written in Urdu.
Having obtained their "evidence", the police transferred all three men to Mirpur prison. En route, the six policemen insisted that they stop off at a hotel for a large meal and forced Fazal to pay. Later, the driver confronted Fazal’s family, demanding 2,500 rupees for having driven the transfer van. In Mirpur prison, Fazal’s weight dropped by more than half to around six stone and when he became too weak to walk he was granted bail due to his ill health. Diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, Fazal returned to Birmingham to receive chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
In November 2011, following a change in the bail laws, Naheem and Rehan were granted bail, and were released from prison. After more than 7½ years in prison, they were able to see their family. However, although Naheem and Rehan have been released on bail, the case against them continues and they still live in fear of having to return to Mirpur prison under a sentence of death.
Follow the case on Reprieve's video blogs:
- Sultana Noon meets Rehan's grandmother
- Sultana Noon talks to Rehan's nephew
- Sultana Noon visits Naheem and Rehan in Mirpur Prison
- A Thank You from casework lawyer Marc Callcutt
- Marc Callcutt visits Naheem's brother
- Marc Callcutt appeals for support for Naheem and Rehan
- Press conference on Naheem and Rehan
- Sultana Noon meets Fazal Hussein