PHC suspends conviction of 25 suspects in Mashal Khan murder case
A two-member bench announced the decision on the petition filed by the suspects who had been sentenced to three years in jail by an anti-terrorism in Haripur earlier this month (February).
The court also ordered to release the suspects on bail.
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Earlier today, the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) completed the hearing of suo-moto notice of Mashal Khan lynching case after it was informed that suspects have been convicted and petition has been filed with the PHC against the acquitted suspects.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar heard the case.
In the proceedings, Additional Advocate General Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) said that the criminals have already been indicted in the murder case whereas the provincial government has filed an appeal against the persons acquitted in the case.
On Feb 7, ATC Judge Fazal Subhar while announcing the verdict in the heavily guarded Haripur Central Jail imposed the death penalty on Imran Ali, who had confessed to shooting Mashal. The court sentenced five suspects to 25 years in jail and 25 others are to be jailed for three years.
The ATC had acquitted 26 accused in the case due to lack of evidence against them. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has announced to file a review petition against the release of 26 accused.
A total of 57 persons were indicted in the case after being arrested by the police. However, four suspects, including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf councilor Arif, head of a student group Sabir and a varsity employee Asad Zia are still at large.
The court has declared all the four suspects absconders in the case.
Mashal, a journalism student of Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, was lynched on April 13 last year by a violent mob on allegations of committing blasphemy, however, investigators found no proof of blasphemy and ruled that the murder was politically motivated.
The brutal, videotaped murder had shocked the nation, sparking a debate over the misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan.
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After the verdict, Mashal Khan's father challenged the acquittal of 26 accused asking for their convictions and punishments. Iqbal pleaded that the acquittals will set a negative example for the youth of Pakistan and these appeals were filed to reinstate the writ of law.
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