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ATC indicts four in Mashal lynching case

Updated September 12, 2018

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PESHAWAR: An anti-terrorism court here on Tuesday indicted four persons for their involvement in the last year lynching of Mashal Khan, a student of Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan.

The accused persons named Asad Katlang, Sabir Mayar, Arif Khan and Izharullah alias Johny, who had been absconding after the occurrence and were subsequently arrested, pleaded not guilty to the charge and decided to stand trial.

The court fixed September 13 for next hearing and summoned some of the prosecution witnesses for that date.

Summons prosecution witnesses for next hearing

The Peshawar High Court had last month dismissed bail petitions of two of the accused persons -- Izharullah and Sabir -- but directed the trial court to conduct their trial within two months.

Barrister Amirullah Khan Chamkani, Shahab Khattak and Fazal Khan are representing Mashal’s father Mohammad Iqbal in the trial.

Mashal Khan, a 23-year-old student of department of mass communication at Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, was lynched by a mob over the allegation of blasphemy on April 13, 2017.

An anti-terrorism court had on February 7 convicted 31 of the 57 accused persons in the lynching case, awarding death sentence to the prime accused Imran Khan, life imprisonment to five of them and three years’ imprisonment to 25 others.

The ATC, which had conducted trial inside Haripur jail, had, however, acquitted 26 of the suspects observing that the prosecution failed to prove the charges against them.

The trial court had issued perpetual arrest warrants of the present four accused persons, who had been absconding after the occurrence. According to prosecution, these four accused had played key role in the offence and engineered the plan of killing Mashal Khan.

Few months ago, the high court directed shifting of the trial of the absconding accused persons to ATC Peshawar.

In April, the high court had ordered to club all appeals originated out of the ATC’s judgment and conduct its hearing at the principal seat of the court in Peshawar.

Presently several of the appeals of the convicts as well as that of the provincial government and Mohammad Iqbal against acquittal of the accused persons and awarding nominal sentence to several of them have been pending before the high court.

Few days ago, the high court also decided to constitute a special bench for hearing a petition filed against granting bail to 25 convicts in the case by a bench in Abbottabad in February this year. The bench will hear the petition on September 14.

A bench of the high court had on February 27 heard applications for suspension of sentences and granting bails to the said 25 convicts. Those applications were filed in the criminal appeals of the convicts challenging their conviction by the ATC.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2018