Pak court to deliver 'blasphemy' murder verdict

Announcing the verdict in Mashal Khan Lynching case, the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Haripur sentenced accused Imran to death.

According to a probe report, Mashal Khan had been vocal about the rights of students at the university and even challenged the appointment of a new vice chancellor (VC) at the university to ensure that students were able to obtain their degrees, which is not possible without the VC's signature, Dawn online reported.

Mashal, a journalism student of the Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, was lynched on April 13 past year by a violent mob on allegations of committing blasphemy, however, investigators found no proof of blasphemy and ruled that the murder was politically motivated.

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) will give its verdict in the murder case of Mashal Khan, who was lynched by a mob at Abdul Wali Khan University previous year over allegations of blasphemy.

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Among the accused were students, teachers and some officials from the Abdul Wali Khan University, which is named after a secular political leader in northwest Pakistan.

The Court headed by Justice Fazle Subhan also awarded four-year imprisonment to 25 accused and exonerated 26 others from the charges.

They all pleaded not guilty in the trial conducted at a high-security prison due to threats to defense lawyers and government prosecutors, Chamkani said.

Mr Khan, 23, a communications student, was attacked and killed by a mob on the campus after a dormitory debate about religion.

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Speaking to the media outside the courtroom, Mashal's brother Aimal said that he hoped no one ever has to go through the ordeal his family suffered.

Party supporters also blocked the main road into Islamabad for almost three weeks a year ago in a protest against a law minister they accused of blasphemy. Security was tight for the verdict, with hundreds of police deployed and roads closed around the prison. Police guard his grave.

Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws, which seek death for insulting Islam or the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, were introduced by former military ruler General Muhammad Zia-ul Haq during the 1980s.

In 2011, a bodyguard assassinated Punjab Governor Salman Taseer after he called for the blasphemy laws to be reformed. Qadri has been hailed as a martyr by religious fundamentalists in Pakistan.

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