- Court orders 26 acquitted to appear before Mardan ATC and ensure their presence in country
PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Tuesday admitted appeals filed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government and Mashal’s family against the anti-terrorism court’s (ATC) verdict in Mashal murder case that had acquitted 26 out of 57 accused.
A two-judge bench, comprising Justice Qalandar Ali Khan and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim, directed all 26 acquitted persons to appear before the Mardan ATC in order to ensure that they will not leave the country and will attend the hearings of the case held at the provincial high court.
During the hearing of the appeals, Prosecutor Muhammad Ayaz Khan argued that the ATC didn’t give any solid reasons for the acquittals. All of these accused had gathered at the campus with a common objective and a pre-planned conspiracy to kill Mashal Khan, he went to add. Referring to the video footage of the incident, the prosecutor said that it made no sense to absolve these individuals when there was strong evidence to convict them.
Additional Advocate General Mian Arshad Jan told the court that there were “no grounds to show them leniency” as “they gathered in the form of mob with a common object, hence they deserve harsh and equal punishment according to the law.”
The appeals seek
On April 9, the PHC ordered the transfer of appeals challenging the ATC verdict from its regional bench in Abbottabad to Peshawar. The order pertained to a petition filed by the provincial government seeking transfer of the appeals from Abbottabad to Peshawar–high court’s principal seat.
The ATC on February 7 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, Mashal, 23, a student at the Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, was lynched by a mob, comprising fellow students, riled up by allegations of blasphemy. As details of this bone-chilling event, including a video recording, were reported, a different picture started to emerge— one that had nothing to do with blasphemy.