Pakistan court announces student lynching verdict

Feb 07, 2018, 21:25 IST | IANS

A total of 61 accused, the majority of them students and university employees and a tehsil councillor, were directly charged in the FIR

JudgementRepresentational Picture

A Pakistan court on Wednesday announce its verdict in the case of the lynching of a student, Mashal Khan, who was accused of blasphemy. Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Judge Fazal Khan Subhan read out the verdicts at the heavily guarded Haripur jail in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against each of the 57 arrested suspects presented before the court, Dawn news reported.

The court's verdict is yet to be announced for at least 25 others. According to initial reports, one person had been handed a death sentence, five sentenced to 25 years in jail, and 26 others acquitted without punishment. Mashal, a student of Mass Communications at the Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was beaten and shot to death by an angry mob on April 13, 2017, reports Dawn news.

The lynching took place within the university premises and was recorded on video which was later circulated on social media. Speaking to the media outside the courtroom, Mashal's brother Aimal said that he hoped no one ever has to go through the ordeal his family suffered. "We will consult our lawyers and see if we are satisfied with the verdict. My only appeal to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police is to arrest the rest of the suspects and bring them to justice as well," he said.

A total of 61 accused, the majority of them students and university employees and a tehsil councillor, were directly charged in the FIR. Fifty seven of the accused were arrested within a few days of the occurrence, while another one was arrested only last month. The brutal incident had shocked the nation and sparked a debate over the misuse of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan.

According to a probe report, Mashal had been vocal about the rights of students at the university and even challenged the appointment of a new vice chancellor (VC) at the university to ensure that students were able to obtain their degrees, which is not possible without the VC's signature, reports Dawn news.

Days before he was lynched by the mob, Mashal in an interview to Khyber news channel, had spoken against activities at the university and the administration.

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