KARACHI - Authorities were preparing Tuesday to hang a convicted killer whose case has attracted international protests because family members say he was a juvenile at the time of the crime.

Shafqat Hussain was sentenced to death for killing a seven-year-old boy in Karachi in 2004 but has had several stays of execution, most recently in June.

The case has prompted concern among human rights campaigners as Shafqat’s lawyers and family claim he was only 15 at the time of the killing, though a government-ordered probe ruled he was an adult.

Shafqat ‘s supporters also claim he was tortured into confessing.

Late Monday the Azad Kashmir government, where Shafqat is from, requested a stay of execution while they look into the controversy surrounding his age.

“On the basis of the recommendations of the Sindh Human Rights Commission, I have decided to conduct an enquiry at the level of the Government of Kashmir into the matter of the juvenility of Mr Shafqat,” AJK President Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan said in a letter to President Mamnoon Hussain.

“It is in the interest of justice that the execution of Mr Shafqat ... be postponed on humanitarian grounds,” he wrote.

Sardar Yaqoob added that he had also asked the local government in Sindh, where Shafqat is jailed, to look into allegations that torture was used to extract a confession. A government official in Sindh confirmed that the provincial authorities had also recommended a stay in the execution. Late Monday, however, the federal government was yet to announce any postponement.

United Nations rights experts have said his trial “fell short of international standards” and called on Islamabad to reinstate a moratorium on the death penalty.

A six-year halt to executions came to an end in December as Pakistan got tough on extremism after Taliban gunmen massacred more than 130 children in Peshawar. Since then, around 180 people have been hanged. An official at Karachi Central Prison said Shafqat’s execution was scheduled for Tuesday following a death warrant issued by a court.

The European Union last week said it was “deeply concerned” by the resumption of hangings and warned that a prized tariff status granted to Pakistan could be threatened unless it stuck to international conventions on fair trials, child rights and preventing torture.

In June Shafqat won his fourth stay of execution, but a day later the Supreme Court rejected an application to set up a judicial commission to ascertain his age.

Shafqat’s age has proved difficult to determine with any certainty. His supporters say he was 14 or 15 at the time of the killing but police insist he was over 20.