PESHAWAR: The Anti-Terrorism Court has completed the trial of four accused in Mashal Khan lynching case and reserved its judgment on Tuesday. The four accused – Arif Khan, Izhar Ullah aka Johnny, Asad Katlang and Sabir Mayar – who went underground after they were nominated for having involvement in Mashar murder case were arrested in March 2018.
The ATC has initiated their trial in June, last year, after the high court shifted their trial from Abbottabad ATC on the request of Mashal Khan parents. The lawyers from both sides have completed their arguments. The ATC judge, Peshawar has already recorded the statement of the Mashals’ father and 46 others witnesses in the case. And the lawyers of both sides have already completed arguments in the case.
The ATC judge ordered that the verdict in the case will be announced on March 16.
Sabir Mayar, a suspect who was declared a proclaimed offender by an anti-terrorism court in the Mashal Khan murder case, surrendered before Mardan police after absconding for nearly 11 months. Another prime suspect, Izharullah aka Johnny, was arrested by the KP police in March. On August 17, 2018, the Mardan police had arrested the accused Asad Katlang after the ATC cancelled his bail before arrest application. In March, the DPO announced that Arif Khan, who was the PTI councillor was arrested in operation after he returned to the country.
Mashal Khan, 23, a student of Mass Communications at Mardan’s Abdul Wali Khan University, was beaten and shot to death by an angry mob on April 13, 2017, after he was accused of blasphemy. The lynching took place within the premises of the university and was caught on video which later circulated on social media. The horrific incident shocked the nation and sparked a debate over the misuse of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan.
A total of 61 people suspected of involvement in the lynching ─ the majority of them students and university employees and a tehsil councillor belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) ─ were charged in the first information report. Out of these, 57 were sentenced by a court on February 7, 2018.
The current case pertains to the four suspects that were absconding from court during the first trial. The government’s lawyer in the case, Barrister Amirullah Chamkani, expressed hope that the court would award the maximum amount of punishment to the accused men.
“We have provided maximum evidence to the court against the accused including the PTI tehsil counsellor Arif Khan,” Chamkani said while speaking to Media.