ISLAMABAD – A court in Pakistan sentenced on Wednesday one person to death and another 30 to between 4-25 years of imprisonment for lynching a student to death over accusations of blasphemy.
Imran Ali, who had pleaded guilty to shooting down Mashal Khan in April after he was lynched by a group of students, was handed the death penalty and was also ordered to pay a fine of Rs.150,000 ($1,355).
Another five people were sentenced to 25 years in prison, while another 25 to four years in prison.
Judge Fazl Subhan also acquitted another 26 accused for lack of evidence at a hearing that was held at the Haripur central jail in northwestern Pakistan amid tight security, a prison spokesperson Farid Ullah told EFE.
Out of the 61 who were accused of being involved in the lynching, three are still on the run.
The government of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the lynching took place, said in a statement that they will appeal against the acquittals and seek tougher sentences for the convicted.
The incident took place on April 13, 2017 at the Abdul Wali Khan University in the city of Mardan, where a group of youngsters lynched and killed the journalism student while shouting slogans of respect for the Islamic Prophet.
Blasphemy became a controversial issue in Pakistan after colonial era laws were amended in the 1980s making it an offense punishable by the death penalty, although nobody has been executed so far.
Despite the tightening of the law, at least 53 people have been killed by mobs in Pakistan until now over alleged blasphemy.