Ill Pakistani prisoner on death row dies in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A terminally ill Pakistani prisoner on death row in Indonesia passed away in a hospital Thursday, shortly after rights activists in Pakistan sought his release on humanitarian grounds.

Zulfiqar Ali, who was arrested in November 2004 and convicted on drug smuggling charges, died at Medistra Hospital in southern Jakarta, said Rika Apriyanti, a spokeswoman for the Correctional Directorate at the Justice and Human Rights Ministry.

She said Ali's body had been handed over to his wife and would be flown back to Pakistan.

Ali's death came after the rights group Justice Project Pakistan, which opposes capital punishment, appealed to the Indonesian government to free Ali. The group said his trial was unfair and he had been wrongfully convicted.

Ali was to have faced the firing squad in July 2016 along with 13 other convicts, mostly foreigners. However, his execution and that of nine others were canceled at the last minute after authorities apparently decided that legal requirements had not been fully satisfied.

Sarah Belal, the executive director of Justice Project Pakistan, said they could not save Ali's life but wanted to help him "die a free man."

Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain had asked Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to pardon Ali.

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