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ATC to announce verdict for last 4 suspects in Mashal Khan lynching case

Updated March 12, 2019

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The court had separated these four suspects from the other 57 as they absconded from court during the main trial. — Facebook/File
The court had separated these four suspects from the other 57 as they absconded from court during the main trial. — Facebook/File

An Anti-terrorism court on Tuesday reserved the verdict of the Mashal Khan lynching case, which will be announced on March 16.

Mashal Khan, 23, a student of Mass Communications at Mardan's Abdul Wali Khan University, was beaten and shot to death by an angry mob on April 13, 2017, after he was accused of blasphemy.

The lynching took place within the premises of the university and was caught on video which later circulated on social media. The horrific incident shocked the nation and sparked a debate over the misuse of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan.

A total of 61 people suspected of involvement in the lynching ─ the majority of them students and university employees and a tehsil councillor belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) ─ were charged in the first information report. Out of these, 57 were sentenced by a court on February 7, 2018.

The current case pertains to the four suspects that were absconding from court during the first trial.

Case proceedings started on June 21, 2018 once the absconding suspects surrendered themselves to the court of law. On Tuesday, both sides finished their arguments, after which the verdict was reserved by ATC-3 Judge Mahmoodul Hassan Khattak.

The government's lawyer in the case, Barrister Amirullah Chamkani, expressed hope that the court would award the maximum amount of punishment to the accused men.

"We have provided maximum evidences to the court against the accused including the PTI tehsil counsellor Arif Khan," Chamkani said while speaking to DawnNewsTV.

Death sentence

Prime accused Imran Ali, who had confessed to shooting Mashal before a judicial magistrate, was sentenced last year on two counts to death by hanging.

He was handed a death sentence under Section 302(b) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), and another death sentence along with a Rs100,000 fine under Section 7(1)(a) of the Anti Terrorism Act.

Separately, he was awarded five years of rigorous imprisonment under Section 15 AA-KPK, along with a fine of Rs50,000.