Mashal’s father challenges acquittals in lynching case

Published March 30, 2019
Mashal Khan, student of Mass Communication, was lynched by a mob in 2017. — Facebook/File
Mashal Khan, student of Mass Communication, was lynched by a mob in 2017. — Facebook/File

PESHAWAR: Mashal Khan’s father Mohammad Iqbal on Friday filed three appeals with the Peshawar High Court against the acquittal of two accused in his son’s lynching case by an anti-terrorism court, and sought death sentences for them.

He also challenged the acquittal of Asad Zia alias Asad Katlang and tehsil councillor Arif Khan in some provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code and Anti-Terrorism Act.

The appeals were filed through Barrister Amirullah Khan Chamkani.

Seeks increase in sentences of two others

On Mar 21, the ATC had convicted Asad, a former employee of the Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, and Arif, and sentenced them on multiple counts to life imprisonment with Rs300,000 fine each.

The court had acquitted two other accused, including Izharullah alias Joni and Sabirullah alias Sabir Mayar, both students, as the judge ruled that the prosecution could not bring any cogent and convincing evidence against them nor were they seen in any of the video clips produced by the prosecution.

The four accused in question had absconded after the lynching incident and therefore, they were not tried initially for the offence. However the police arrested them last year.

Mashal Khan, a 23-year-old student of the Department of Mass Communication at the Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, was lynched by a mob over the allegation of blasphemy on Apr 13, 2017.

On Feb 7, 2018, an ATC had convicted 31 of the 57 accused persons who had faced trial 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.

However, the ATC, which had conducted the initial trial inside Haripur Central prison, had acquitted 26 of the accused persons 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.

In the appeal filed against acquittal of Sabir Mayar and Izharullah, the appellant said the evidence produced by prosecution against them were irrefutable.

He added that the criminal conspiracy had been proved by the prosecution beyond doubt and as such their acquittal under Section 120-B of PPC dealing with criminal conspiracy.

The appellant said the prosecution witnesses produced by the prosecution prove its case, while the acquitted accused remained absconders wilfully after the occurrence.

In the appeal filed for enhancing the sentence of life imprisonment awarded to convicts Arif and Asad to that of death penalty, the appellant said the offence committed by the two was gruesome, inhuman, and barbaric, and that they showed no remorse for it.

Several appeals of the earlier convicts and those of the provincial government and Mohammad Iqbal against the acquittal of the accused and awarding nominal sentence to several accused in the earlier trial have been pending with the high court.

In April last year, the high court had ordered the clubbing of all appeals originated out of the ATC’s judgement and conduct its hearing at the principal seat of the court in Peshawar as some appeals were filed with the court’s Abbottabad circuit bench.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2019

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