Mashal murder case: Court orders immediate release of 25 accused

ABBOTTABAD: A division bench of Peshawar High Court here ordered the immediate release of the 25 accused who had been awarded three-year to four-year sentences in the murder case of Mashal Khan.

A division bench of the court, including Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Syed Atiq, approved the bail plea of the 25 accused, who were sentenced to imprisonment of three to four years by the anti-terrorism court in the case.
Mashal’s father, Iqbal Khan had earlier filed an appeal in the Peshawar High Court against the decision of an anti-terrorism court, demanding further punishment for the accused.

In the review petition, Iqbal Khan pleaded that the five accused who were sentenced to life imprisonment should be put on death row. He had also appealed to the Peshawar High Court to increase the punishment of those sentenced to four-year jail sentences.

The ATC court in its decision had acquitted the other 26 arrested for their presence on the crime scene due to lack of proper evidence. They were later released on the same night.

Mashal was brutally beaten and shot dead at the over allegations of blasphemy in April 2017, after which a 13-member joint investigation team (JIT) was formed to probe the case.
The JIT revealed in its report in June 2017 that members of the Pakhtoon Students Federation, the student wing of the Awami National Party, incited the mob to kill Mashal on the pretext of blasphemy.
The report stated the murder was premeditated as the group was threatened by Mashal’s activities because he would raise his voice against irregularities at his university.
The 26 accused released by the anti-terrorism court received a ‘hero’s welcome’ in their native town of Swabi and Mardan.