nsucurrent.com May 21, 2018

Twitterati hail ATC verdict on Mashal murder case

08 February 2018, 12:11 | Colleen Roy

Pak court to deliver 'blasphemy' murder verdict

One awarded death sentence, 5 get life term in Mashal murder case

Earlier in the day, an anti-terrorism court in Hairpur convicted 31 people over the lynching of Mashal Khan.

Main suspect Imran Ali who confessed of shooting Mashal Khan before the court has been sentenced to death.

The killing of student Mashal Khan, 23, past year sparked an outcry and raised fresh questions about the misuse of a harsh blasphemy law, which stipulates the death sentence for insulting Islam or the Prophet Muhammad.

A court in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province acquitted 26 other suspects in the killing of Mashal Khan past year, which sparked outcry in the religiously conservative country.

Of the remaining 56 accused - made up of students, teachers and some university officials - five were sentenced to life imprisonment, and 25 were jailed for four years.

Most of the 61 suspects arrested by the police were Khan's fellow students at the Abdul Wali Khan University in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.

Party supporters also blocked the main road into Islamabad for almost three weeks previous year in a protest against a law minister they accused of blasphemy.

The trial was held at a high-security prison in the northwestern town of Haripur, in part due to concerns that radical Islamists might target the hearing or witnesses.

"I appreciate the court decision", he told reporters in London in remarks broadcast live by Pakistan's Geo TV.

ATC Jugde Fazal Khan Subhan read out the verdicts against each of the 57 men accused in the case one-by-one. He is visiting London to talk at various forums about his son's case and the blasphemy law.

"We will consult our lawyers and see if we are satisfied with the verdict", Aimal said, according to Dawn newspaper. Police guard his grave.

Blasphemy against Islam is punishable by death in Pakistan, and mere allegations are often enough to provoke mob violence. The incident shocked the nation and sparked a debate over misuse of Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws. His killer, Mumtaz Qadri, who was executed previous year, has been hailed as a martyr by religious hardliners.

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