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PHC admits for hearing appeals against verdict in Mashal case.

PESHAWAR -- A Peshawar High Court bench on Tuesday admitted to regular hearing appeals filed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and a brother of Mashal Khan against the judgment of an anti-terrorism court in Mashal lynching case, challenging acquittal of 26 of the accused and for enhancing sentences of the 31 convicts.

The bench comprising Justice Qalandar Ali Khan and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim also issued bailable arrest warrants of the 26 acquitted accused persons, directing them to furnish two sureties of Rs100,000 each with the Mardan anti-terrorism court.

The provincial government has filed three appeals through KP advocate general, stating that the prosecution had established the case through direct strong circumstantial evidence against all the 57 accused personas tried by the ATC.

Warrants issued for 26 suspects acquitted by ATC

Similarly, Mashal's brother Aimal Khan has filed an appeal against acquittal of the 26 accused persons by the ATC.

An anti-terrorism court had on February 7 convicted 31 of the 57 accused persons facing trial in the last year's Mashal Khan lynching case. The ATC had awarded death sentence to the prime accused named Imran Khan, life imprisonment to five of them and three years' imprisonment to 25 others.

The ATC, which had conducted trial inside Haripur prison, had acquitted 26 of the accused persons, observing that prosecution failed to prove charges against them.

The bench directed that those appeals should be fixed for hearing along with connected appeals filed by the convicts in the case. The bench issued notices to the convicts as well as the acquitted accused persons.

Next date for hearing the appeals would be fixed later.

Mian Arshid Jan, an additional advocate general, argued that there was no ground available with the trial court to acquit the said 26 accused persons.

He said that a case of criminal conspiracy preceding lynching and intentional murder of Mashal Khan was proved against the accused persons and the trial court had erred in acquitting them. He added that some of the accused had played active role in the gruesome murder of Mashal Khan.

The bench observed that the contention of the AAG required consideration.

Similarly, in an appeal filed for enhancing sentence of the five convicts, who were awarded life imprisonment, the AAG argued that having played an active and effective role in the preplanned lynching and murder of Mashal Khan, those five accused persons deserved normal penalty of death for the offences with which they were charged.

He said that the trial court had shown leniency towards them and they were awarded lesser penalty of life imprisonment for no cogent reasons.

Advocate Mohammad Ayaz Khan appeared for Aimal Khan and argued that there was incontrovertible evidence against the acquitted persons in the case. He requested the court to set aside the judgment of ATC to the extent of acquittal of the 26 accused persons.

In the appeal against acquittal of the 26 accused, the provincial government has prayed the high court to set aside the judgment of ATC to the extent of their acquittal and they may be convicted and punished under different provisions of law.

The appellant states that the trial court has committed a grave error and illegality by acquitting them as plethora of evidence was produced by the prosecution against them.

It is stated that during course of investigation, the investigation officer collected the DVDs, CDs, USB and mobile phones containing the videos of the occurrence at various places in Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan.

It is added that the accused could be seen in all those videos at different spots which had also been identified by Punjab Forensic Science Agency in its report.

In one of the three appeals, the government has challenged awarding lesser sentence to 25 of the accused, who were acquitted of the charges of murder, criminal conspiracy and terrorism, but were sentenced to three years imprisonment for lynching and one-year imprisonment for desecrating Mashal's body.
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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Apr 18, 2018
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