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March 12, 2018

Convicts’ release: Mashal’s father, lawyers question law officer’s role


March 12, 2018

PESHAWAR: The father of Mashal Khan and his lawyers have questioned the role of a law officer for not opposing the release of 25 convicts on bail in the Mashal lynching case.

They also questioned the legal requirements before the release of the convicts in the appeals against conviction.

The reaction of Mashal’s father Iqbal Khan and his lawyers came after the order of Peshawar High Court’s Abbottabad Circuit Bench to suspend conviction of the appellants in the lynching case and order their release on bail till decision in the appeals.

The Abbottabad Circuit Bench comprising Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Syed Muhammad Attique Shah passed the order on February 27, stating that the learned additional advocate general, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa didn’t raise any objection on the suspension of the sentences.

Later, Additional Advocate General Raja Muhammad Zubair filed before the same bench the bail cancellation application of the 25 persons who had been released. The law officer submitted in the bail cancelation application that he was wrongly mentioned in the order sheet that he did not concede the release of the appellants on bail.

According to the order, counsel for the appellants stated at the bar that he would not press the petition for suspension of sentence to those convicted for life term including FazleRaziq, Ashfaq Ahmad, Mujeebullah and Bilal Ahmad.

It said that the counsel submitted that the sentences of the 25 convicts are short and therefore they be released on bail till final disposal of their appeals. Besides, the lawyer stated that those bailed out had already passed 10 months in jail.

On the other hand, Iqbal Khan appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suomotu notice of the release of the 25 accused in the case.

He expressed dismay at the high court’s decision to suspend convictions in the Mashallynching case and said it was regrettable that the court didn’t issue notices to him and his lawyers about the hearing and granted bails to convicts in their absence.

Meanwhile, lawyers in the Mashal lynching case, Ayaz Khan and Fazal Khan, said that legal requirements were not fulfilled in the appeals for suspending the conviction as there was no notice to the complainant before releasing the convicts on bail.

They argued that the accused were sentenced on charges of Anti-Terrorism Act and under sections 8 and 25 of Anti-Terrorism Act the convicts could not be released on bail. They said the release on bail is also contrary to the law.

They said the court partially allowed the appeals by suspending the sentence under the provision of CrPC, but under section 31 of the Anti-Terrorism Act when there is some conflict in these laws, the provision of Anti-Terrorism Act will prevail.

The lawyers alleged that the provincial government had tried to directly involve itself in the case.

Meanwhile, the Mardan Police finally arrested ArifMardanvi, one of the main accused in the Mashal lynching case. He was produced before the Anti-Terrorism court in Mardan amid tight security and the court remanded him in the police custody for three days.

The accused, a tehsil councillor of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf fromChamtaar area, had fled to Turkey after the lynching incident.

His reported return prompted DPO MianSaeed Ahmad to form a special police team for his arrest. ArifMardanvi had declared that MashalKhan deserved to be killed for committing blasphemy.

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) had convicted 31 of the 57 accused in the Mashal Khan murder case, awarding death sentence to the prime accused, life imprisonment to five other convicts and three-year jail terms to 25 others. However, the court acquitted 26 other accused as the prosecution failed to prove charges against them.

Later, both the complainant as well as the KP government through the advocate general office challenged the acquittal of the accused in the high court and sought enhancement in punishment of those convicted and accused.

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