LAHORE: Following the anti-terrorism court (ATC)’s verdict in Mashal Khan Murder case on Wednesday in which it sentenced one person to death and handed over life sentences to five others, analysts appeared on a television show to discuss the verdict and the judicial process.
Mashal Khan was lynched and murdered by a mob on April 13, 2017, after he was accused of committing blasphemy. No proof of him having committed blasphemy was found by the investigators of the case and they decreed that there were political motivations behind the murder. The ATC sentenced one person to death, handed over life sentences to five others while also awarding four-year sentences to 25 others accused in the case and acquitting 26 suspects due to lack of evidence.
Speaking at a television talk show, lawyer Babar Sattar said that it was only for Mashal’s family to decide whether justice was served. He, however, lauded the justice system for moving a step forward in holding a mob accountable.
Talking about a balanced judicial approach, Sattar said that a functional system would give the accused the benefit of the doubt and would not succumb to the pressure to hang all accused without evidence.
Referring to those who were part of the mob, including those who were there with an intent to contribute in the violence and those who just stood and watched, he said, “During the appeal process, the jurisprudence on the responsibility of a mob would also become evident.”
Commenting on whether justice had been served, senior journalist Mazhar Abbas said that it was too early to comment on that because only one court had announced its verdict so far.
He further said that high courts normally do not uphold the sentences and convictions awarded by ATCs. Justice will be served when the Supreme Court passes these sentences, he added.
Analyst Irshad Bhatti, on the contrary, said that he was satisfied with the judgment because the punishment was handed out rather quickly in a country where it was normal for a case to drag on for years. He lauded the police and courts for resisting and pressure and for doing their job properly.
Meanwhile, analyst Hafeezullah Niazi asked for five to seven people to be hanged citing the brutal nature of Mashal Khan’s murder.
Speaking about the importance of the case, Imtiaz Alam said that the case was of significance because the entire country including various institutions went through a trial for justice to be served.
Commenting on whether justice was served, he said that justice would be served when the parents of the victim say so. Their complaints remain, he added.
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