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Mashal's family files appeal in PHC against acquittal of 26 men in murder case

Mashal's family files appeal in PHC against acquittal of 26 men 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.

Also read: Why they lynched Mashal Khan

A Haripur Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Feb 7 sentenced the prime accused, shooter Imran Ali, to death, handed jail sentences to 30 people, and acquitted 26 others.

Mashal's family was not satisfied with the verdict.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday after a meeting with the family's lawyers at the PHC, Aimal said the family had "decided to challenge the verdict minutes after it was announced".

"We have included video clips of their speeches in our appeal as proof," Fazl had said, adding that these individuals had played a major role in the killing of Mashal Khan.

Ayaz Khan, senior lawyer and another member of the legal team, said: "We are going to challenge the whole verdict, including the acquittal of 26 accused, the lesser sentences of 30 others", and the acquittal of the main accused, Imran Ali under sections 120-B, 148, 149, 324, 427, and 297 of the Pakistan Penal Code, and 11-WW and 21-I of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Ayaz Khan also pointed out contradictions in the verdict, saying that at the beginning of the detailed judgement it is stated that the lynching was planned and all the men arrested had played a role in the killing. However, at the end of the verdict, 26 men were acquitted citing insufficient evidence.

"We are hopeful that with this appeal, Mashal will finally get justice from the high court," he said.

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