Pakistani court sentences 1 to death for lynching student

Journalism student Mashal Khan was shot and brutally lynched on campus on April 13

Journalism student Mashal Khan was shot and brutally lynched on campus on April 13

Commenting on the court verdict in Mashal Khan murder case, his brother Aimal Khan expressed his satisfaction over the process of dispensation of justice and announced that he would decide whether or not to challenge the acquittal of 26 accused.

Twenty-six others were acquitted as the judge read out the verdicts for each of the accused.

The punishments have finally been handed down to the Pakistani men who slaughtered Humanist activist Mashal Khan a year ago.

Students who participated in the lynching were later rounded up after being identified using CCTV footage from the university and video clips. Another 25 people were sentenced to four years, and 26 others were acquitted for lack of evidence.

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

The 57 suspects indicted over the murder included students, teachers and some officials of Abdul Wali Khan University.

He was attacked and killed by a mob on the campus on April 13 after a dormitory debate about religion. He described himself as a humanist, and had plastered his room with posters of his political heroes - like Che Guevara and Karl Marx - and written slogans celebrating free speech on the walls.

Parents of the arrested suspects staged a protest because they were to allowed in the courtroom.

According to the report, President of university employees, Ajmal Mayar, had revealed during probe that about a month before the incident, PSF President Sabir Mayar and a varsity employee, Asad Katlang, had met him and said they wanted to remove Mashal from their way as he was a threat to their group.

In 2014, several hundred Muslim men bludgeoned a Christian man and his pregnant wife to death and threw their bodies in a burning brick kiln after the couple was accused of blasphemy.

During their investigation, police determined there was no evidence Khan had committed blasphemy. Moreover, blasphemy is considered a serious crime in Pakistan and can often lead to a death penalty.

The killing of student Mashal Khan, 23, in 2017 sparked an outcry and raised fresh questions about the misuse of a harsh blasphemy law, which carries a death sentence for insulting Islam or the Prophet Muhammad.

One man received the death sentence.

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