An anti-terrorism court on Tuesday reserved judgment against the four suspects in Mashal Khan case after the lawyers of defence, prosecution and the victim’s family concluded their arguments.
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 the 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 the 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 pieces of evidence to the court against the accused including the PTI tehsil counsellor Arif Khan,” Chamkani said while speaking to DawnNewsTV.
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 an 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.