26 men acquittal in murder case
Mashal Khan’s family on Wednesday filed an appeal in the Peshawar High Court (PHC) challenging the acquittal of 26 people in the 23-year-old student’s mob murder case. The appeal, filed by Mashal’s brother Aimal Khan, argues that the decision by the Haripur Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) should be set aside and those acquitted should be awarded capital punishment as substantial proof against them exists.
The appeal states that the 26 men acquitted on all charges admitted to their involvement in a procession that was held right after their release from custody following the ATC’s decision. Video proof of their involvement is also present, among other things, making the prosecution’s case against them very strong, read the appeal. The ATC’s decision, the appeal argues, would “encourage the respondents to commit such acts in the future”.
The acquittal is also against the principles of Qisas, it says, adding that the evidence of the men being present at the crime scene with the common objective to kill has not even been contradicted in the court. Following the submission of the petition, Aimal said that a total of five appeals will be filed in the case on a step-by-step basis.
Meanwhile, Fazl Khan, Aimal’s counsel, said that direct and indirect threats were being made against him as well as the lawyers representing Mashal’s father for pursuing the case, demanding the government to take action. Mashal, a Mass Communications student at Mardan’s Abdul Wali Khan University, was beaten and shot to death by an angry mob on April 13, 2017, after being accused of blasphemy.