A Pakistani Supreme Court justice said that the court, in turning down deposed prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's appeal from the death sentence, expected the military government to commute the sentence.
Justice Safdar Shah's statement came amid clear signs that the authorities are going ahead with plans to hang Bhutto, probably early next month.
A statement in the court decision that suggested points "relevant for consideration by the executive authorities in the exercise of their prerogative of mercy" was intended by the court as "a recommendation to the executive to commute," Shah said. He added that such language had been used by courts in the past and "I can't think of any case in which the recommendation has ever been violated."
Meanwhile, there were reports that prison conditions for Bhutto have been deteriorated sharply in recent days. His daughter told authorities that his cell is not being cleaned, his medicines have been taken away and he has no bed.
About 20 people broke into his cell Monday night, prison sources said, shoving him and menacing him, with one reportedly grabbing Bhutto by the throat and threatening to break his legs.
Bhutto's daughter asked that the jail manual be consulted to see whether her father's treatment violated regulations.