LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Lahore on Saturday exonerated 20 people who were accused of lynching and burning alive a Christian couple, Shahzad and Shama, on the basis of alleged blasphemy in Kot Radha Kishan in 2014.
In November 2014, following the announcements from the local mosque a mob consisting of around “400- 1, 000 people” had gathered to ‘punish’ the couple for an alleged sacrilegious act.
Both husband and wife were brick kiln workers, and the woman, a mother of three, was pregnant at the time. Police had registered a case against 660 villagers after the incident.
Over the course of the hearing, the ATC acquitted at least 20 suspects while giving them the benefit of doubt. Out of these 20, 15 people were identified as Faryad, Babar Ali, Islamuddin, Zulfiqar Ali, Arshad Ali, Jawed, Abid, Sabir, Muhammad Sharif, Sarfraz, Sultan, Aftab, Muhammad Ashraf, Abid Hasan, Asif and Owais, reported a local newspaper.
Earlier in 2016, the court had sentenced five men to death on two counts, while eight others were charged with involvement in the lynching and sentenced to two years each in prison. In 2015, the ATC had charged 106 suspected in the lynching.