Pakistani court sentences 1 to death for lynching student

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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 past year over allegations of blasphemy.

Mashal Khan, a journalism student, was dragged out of his dorm room at Abdul Wali Khan University in the north-western town of Mardan on April 13, 2017, and killed by a mob following false rumors that he had shared blasphemous content on social media. His half-naked body was later thrown out of the building where dozens of men started kicking and hitting it with sticks and planks.

How the Pakistani public responded: The death of Khan angered civil society and rights activists in Pakistan and saw people call for justice for Khan, as well as urging reform of blasphemy laws.

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The court acquitted 26 others out of a total of 57 people indicted by a court late previous year. Three suspects, including a tehsil councillor of the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), are still absconding.

Main suspect Imran Ali who confessed of shooting Mashal Khan before the court has been sentenced to death.

Bilal Bakhsh, Fazal-i-Raziq, Mujeebullah, Ishfaq Khan and Mudassir Bashir were all given 25 years of jail term.

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Another 26 students brought in the Mashal Khan case were acquitted with those accused of his murder including students, university staff and officials. In case of non-payment of fine under any of the sentences, six months will be added to the sentence.

While talking to media outside the jail, Mashal Khan's brother-Aimal Khan- said that he prayed no one has to pass through such pain and turmoil. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province chief minister Pervez Khattak said his government would appeal against the acquittal of 26 people.

One recently arrested suspect is yet to face trial, while three more are on the run. Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Pakistan and even unproven allegations can be fatal. Police have found no evidence to suggest that the lynched victim had committed any act of blasphemy and regarded the death as a premeditated murder.

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