ABBOTTABAD – An anti-terrorism court in Haripur on Wednesday awarded death sentence to prime accused and jail terms to 30 others in Mashal Khan murder case.
ATC Judge Fazal Subhar while announcing verdict in the heavily guarded Haripur Central Jail imposed 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 four years.
The ATC acquitted 26 accused in the case due to lack of evidences 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 absconder in the case.
Mashal, a journalism student of the 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.
On September 20, 2017, the ATC began the hearing of Mashal Khan’s murder case. Justice Fazal Subhan heard the case till January 2018, amid strict security measures in the locality of Central Jail, Haripur. The judge reserved the verdict on Jan 27.
During total 25 hearings, the court recorded statements of 68 witnesses in the case. Mashal Khan’s brother hoped that justice will prevail and the killers will get due punishment.
The Mashal Khan case took an ugly turn during the hearings when Abdullah, the eyewitness in the lynching case, pardoned the suspects.
Abdullah, a friend of Mashal had been severely injured by the suspects who had killed Mashal Khan.
He recorded his statement in which he forgave the suspects via a video link from Haripur Central Jail, however, legal experts believe that the statement will have no legal effect on the murder case.