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National

February 15, 2018

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Brother of Mashal moves PHC against acquittal of 26 accused

PESHAWAR: An appeal was filed in the Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday against the Anti-Terrorism Court’s decision of acquitting 26 accused in the lynching case of Mashal Khan.

It was claimed in the appeal that some of the accused after being released from jail admitted in a public meeting that they were involved in the killing of Mashal Khan, a journalism student at Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan.

The appeal was filed by Aimal Iqbal Khan, brother of Mashal Khan, through his lawyers Muhammad Ayaz Khan, Barrister Ameerullah Khan Chamkani, Fazal Khan and Shahabuddin Khattak under section 25 (4) of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997. All the 26 acquitted accused, including Wajid Malang, and the state were made respondents in the appeal.

An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on February 2 convicted 31 of the 57 accused in the Mashal Khan murder case. It awarded death sentence to the principal accused Imran Ali, life imprisonment to five others and four-year jail terms to another 25.

The court acquitted the remaining 26 suspects in the case. Its verdict stated that no conclusive evidence was brought on record against them and they were not found to have played an overt act in the lynching of Mashal Khan. The court stated that though they could be identified in the videos but they were only standing and making videos.

In one of the grounds mentioned in the appeal, the appellant Aimal Iqbal claimed that after acquittal the 26 suspects upon release from jail were warmly welcomed by their supporters at the Rashakai Interchange near Mardan where they admitted their guilt and the charges against them. The appellant argued that this showed the respondents were unrepentant. Besides, he said this conveyed bad impression of our society and was against the integrity of the country.

In facts of the case, it was submitted that the trial court miserably failed to appreciate the ocular as well as circumstantial evidence in respect of the acquittal of the respondents.

“The trial court admitted in the judgment that the prosecution proved their charges levelled against the accused facing trial without any shadow of doubt, but unfortunately no plausible reason was given by the learned trial court while acquitting the 26 suspects and thus the court decision regarding acquittal is not sustainable in the eyes of law and liable to be set aside,” the appeal stated.

It said that the acquitted accused were part of the mob that had gathered inside Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan with common object to kill Mashal Khan for the reason that allegations of blasphemy was levelled against him.

It said that the trial court admitted in the judgment that all the accused facing trial were present at the time of the occurrence, hence the evidence or prosecution having no contradiction to that extent, and liability of all the accused is the same and all the accused are to be convicted equally according to the charges levelled against them.

“The offences/charges for which the respondents along with others convicted accused were charged are not only heinous and brutal in nature, but also against the humanity and society, and acquittal of the respondents would be against the norms of Islam,” the appellant claimed.

It was stated that acquittal of the respondents is also against the golden principles of Qissas and such offences are controlled through capital punishment to establish principles for the future of society instead of taking a lenient view by acquitting the accused.

Talking to members of the media, Aimal Iqbal Khan said that he had filed the appeal against the 26 acquitted persons as he wanted them to face trial in the high court.

He claimed that those acquitted had confessed their crime after release from jail during the public meeting at Rashakai Interchange and its video record is available on the case file.

“I want to try the acquitted persons to save other Mashals from lynching in the name of blasphemy tomorrow,” he maintained.

To a question, the appellant’s counsels, Muhammad Ayaz Khan and Fazal Khan, said that they are contesting the case despite immense pressure and warnings from the respondents.

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