Court sentences man to death in Mashal lynching case

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

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

Tight security arrangements were in place due to the sensitivity of the case, with roads leading to the Haripur Central jail being closed.

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.

During the course of hearing, a total of 57 accused were presented by the prosecution.

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In April 2017, he was accused of committing blasphemy - a charge that carries a judicial death sentence and, increasingly, the threat of extrajudicial murder in Pakistan - by fellow students. Six persons acquitted by the court reached Mardan while two went to Swat. The court had also slapped a fine of one lakh (Pakistani) rupees. According to him, this is the first time in Pakistan where police have been successful in bringing the prime accused under the ambit of law. The court also acquitted 26 people in the case.

Provincial Minister Shaukat Yousufzai has said that the government wants punishment to all the accused involved in the grisly incident. The court also gave benefit of Section 382-B CrPC as the jail term before conviction would be counted in the sentence. It said the killing was instigated by members of a secular student group who felt threatened by Khan's growing prominence as a critic of rising fees and alleged corruption at the university.

The court declared absconding accused Arif Khan, son of Tor Khan, resident of Mardan, Asad Khan, son of Gulroz, resident of Matta village in Katlang tehsil in Mardan, Sabir Mayar, son of Mustaghfirullah, resident of Mayar village in Mardan and Izharullah alias Johny of Mardan as proclaimed offenders.

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One recently arrested suspect is yet to face trial, while three more are on the run. The lynching was recorded on video which was later circulated on social media. Some of those sentenced were affiliated to different students' wings of political parties, including the Pakhtun Students' Federation and Islami Jamiat-e-Tulaba.

"Our legal team is meeting on this, and as soon as we reach a decision, we will announce it", Aimal Khan, Mashal's brother, told reporters after the verdict was announced.

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