KP govt moves PHC against Mashal Khan verdict


PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Wednesday filed three petitions in the Peshawar High Court (PHC), challenging the anti-terrorism court’s (ATC) verdict in the Mashal Khan murder case.

On February 7, the ATC in Haripur convicted 31 of the 57 arrested accused in the lynching case, awarding death sentence to the prime accused, life imprisonment to five other convicts and three-year jail terms to 25 others, while acquitting 26 others.

On April 13, 2017, Mashal, 23, a student at the Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan, was lynched by a mob allegedly comprising his fellow students and university employees riled up by allegations of blasphemy against the young man.

Out of the total 61 accused in the case, 57 were tried in the ATC, out of which 26 were acquitted. Another prime suspect, Izharullah aka Johnny, was arrested by the KP police in January 2018, taking the tally to 58. Three suspects, including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) councillor, are still on the run.

KP Advocate General (AG) Latif Yoisafzai filed three separate petitions in the court. One petition pleaded the court to overturn the ATC verdict pertaining to the acquittal of 26 accused; another petition challenged the acquittal of 31 convicts, including the shooter, against various charges, while the third petition asked the court to extend the sentences of 25 convicts who had been sentenced only three years in prison against various charges.

The petition argued that the trial court had “committed a grave error and illegality by acquitting” the 26 people despite what it called a “plethora of evidence produced against them by the prosecution”. The plea further argued that the acquittal was not maintainable in the eyes of the law and is liable to be set aside.

On February 14, Aimal Khan, brother of the Mashal Khan moved the PHC, challenging the decision to exonerate 26 suspects in his brother’s lynching case.

Aimal Khan had filed an appeal with the court saying the trial court miserably failed to appreciate the ocular and circumstantial evidence in respect of the acquittal of the 26 accused persons.

Meanwhile, the man who shot Mashal Khan and 12 others given various jail terms for participating in his lynching also challenged their convictions in the high court.

Syed Akhtar, the counsel for the 13 convicts, filed an appeal against the death sentence handed to Ali and the jail terms awarded to five others in the Abbottabad Circuit Bench of the PHC.