Court defers verdict in Mashal murder case till March 21

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PESHAWAR: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Peshawar on Saturday deferred the verdict of Mashal Khan murder case.

The four suspects — Asad Katling, Sabir Mayar, Arif Khan Mardanwi and Izharullah — were produced before the court amid tight security.

The verdict has been postponed until March 21.

Mashal Khan, a student at Mardan’s Abdul Wali Khan University, was lynched on April 13, 2017, by a mob for purportedly committing blasphemy.

On February 8 last year, the ATC in Haripur had sentenced one accused to death and five others to 25 years in jail.

ATC Judge Fazal Khan Subhan read out the verdicts against each of the 57 men accused in the case one-by-one. Tight security arrangements were in place due to the sensitivity of the case, with roads leading to the Haripur Central jail being closed. The court had also acquitted 26 people in the case.

After Mashal’s murder, then chief justice took notice and ordered a judicial inquiry. For this purpose, a joint investigation team (JIT) was formed to investigate the gruesome murder.

The JIT report had revealed that the lynching was organized by other students from his own political group and faculty members who resented his criticism of the university.

The report also revealed that officials from the university administration were also involved in his murder. The report also stated that there were no solid proofs found about blasphemy committed by Mashal and his friends.

The brutality of the attack, recorded on a mobile phone camera, had shocked the public and led to widespread condemnation, including from prominent clerics.