LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court on Thursday awarded death sentence on 22 counts to facilitator of a suicide attack at Data Darbar shrine that claimed 11 lives, including personnel of the elite police, during May this year.

ATC-I convicted Mohsin Khan, 23, and handed down death penalty to him on 11 counts each under Section 302 (b) of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.

“He be hanged by his neck till he is dead,” said the verdict. However, the sentence of death shall not be executed till its confirmation by the Lahore High Court.

The court also awarded life imprisonment to the convict under section 6 of Explosive Substance Act, seven-year rigorous imprisonment on 24 counts under section 324 of PPC.

The court further ordered the convict to pay a compensation of Rs400,000 to the legal heirs of each deceased.

An official of Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) said this was one of the rare cases wherein culprits involved in heinous and brutal murder of innocent citizens had been awarded capital punishment after due process of law within six months.

He said the prosecution was able to secure exemplary punishment for the accused due to the extra reliance on forensic evidence including explosive forensics, audio/video photometry test etc.

He claimed that the conviction in the Data Darbar suicide attack will go a long way in strengthening Pakistan’s case in the Financial Action Task Force evaluation as in this case the financing of the attack was done by elements based in Afghanistan.

He said Pakistan had been facing criticism of having a poor capacity at investigating terror financing.

He pointed out that in this particular case the government, on the request of CTD, had already sent mutual legal requests to FATF and the Afghanistan government for arresting the culprits based in Afghanistan who had financed the attack.

He believed that the conviction of the accused not only nullifies criticism on Pakistan’s capacity to prosecute terror financing but it also vindicated country’s stance of itself being the worst victim of terrorism financing by hostile elements based in Afghanistan.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2019