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PESHAWAR: The father of Mashal Khan on Saturday filed five appeals with the Peshawar High Court against an anti-terrorism court’s decision to acquit 26 of the accused in the case of his son’s lynching.

Mohammad Iqbal sought the conviction of all acquitted accused and stricter sentences for 31 convicts under the Pakistan Penal Code and Anti-Terrorism Act.

The appellant was accompanied by his counsel, including Mohammad Ayaz Khan, Barrister Ameerullah Chamkani, Fazal Khan and Shahabuddin Khattak, during the visit to the court.

Seeks conviction of all acquitted persons, stricter sentences for convicts

The provincial government has already filed three appeals against the ATC’s Feb 7 judgment seeking conviction of the acquitted accused, death penalty for five convicts, who were awarded life imprisonment, and increase in the sentence of 25 other convicts given three years imprisonment for lynching and one-year detention for desecrating Mashal’s body.

The ATC, which conducted trial inside the Haripur Central Prison, had convicted 31 of the 57 accused in the Mashal lynching case, awarding death sentence to the prime accused, life imprisonment to five of them and three-year imprisonment to 25 others.

It however acquitted 26 of the accused observing that the prosecution had failed to prove charges against them.

Mashal Khan, a student of Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, was lynched by a mob on campus on April 13, 2017 over the alleged blasphemy.

In one of the appeals, Mohammad Iqbal challenged the acquittal of 26 accused and sought death sentences for them all insisting there were incontrovertible evidence of their involvement in the lynching.

He said the trial court had admitted in the judgment that the prosecution proved their charges against the accused but unfortunately, it gave no plausible reason for the acquittal of 26 accused and therefore, the judgment was not sustainable in the eyes of the law and was liable to be set aside.

The appellant said it was an admitted fact that the acquitted 26 persons were part of the mob gathered inside the Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, with a common object to kill Mashal Khan over the baseless blasphemy allegation.

He added that the trial court had also acknowledged that the 26 people acquitted in the case were present at the lynching site and that there was no contradiction in prosecution evidence and so, the liability of all accused were one and the same rendering the acquittal of accused illegal and unlawful.

In the second appeal, Mohammad Iqbal challenged the acquittal under different provisions of the PPC and ATA of the prime accused, Imran, who was awarded death sentence on two counts.

The trial court had acquitted him of different charges including planning a criminal conspiracy, lynching, desecrating dead body, rioting and damaging property.

In another appeal, Mashal’s father challenged the life imprisonment of five of the convicts and requested the high court to maintain their conviction but sentence them to death.

He also challenged the acquittal of 25 of the accused under provisions dealing with intentional murder, act of terrorism and planning a conspiracy.

“These 25 accused were only convicted for the offence of lynching and desecration of dead and were sentenced on two counts to three years imprisonment and one-year imprisonment, respectively. Both these sentences have to run concurrently,” he said.

The appellant also challenged nominal sentences for 25 of the convicts by the trial court saying the offences and charges for which all the accused were charged were not only heinous and brutal but also went against humanity and that treating them leniently was against Islamic norms.

He claimed that the foundation of the prosecution case was a preplanned conspiracy for the murder of Mashal Khan and for that, all the accused had gathered inside the university, which was visible in videos.

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2018