An anti-terrorism court has handed a death sentence to six people and life imprisonment to nine in its verdict on the lynching of Sri Lankan citizen Priyantha Kumara.
The punishment was announced on Monday by Punjab Prosecution Department Secretary Nadeem Sarwar, who apprised media personnel that 72 people nominated in the case were given a jail term of two years each, one given a jail term of five years, while one person was acquitted.
Sarwar said that the prosecution team had brought forth 43 witnesses in order to prove the crime of the suspects. He added that forensic, audio and video evidence was made use of in order to aid the process of conviction.
The secretary stated that the testimonies were completed in one month while the suspects were given a full chance to defend themselves.
He added that today, a total of 88 accused had been punished while one was acquitted.
One accused Ali Asghar was awarded a sentence of five years, while all charges were dropped against suspect Bilal. Those who were sentenced to death included Taimoor, Abdul Rehman, Muhammad Irshad, Ali Husnain, Abu Talha and Muhammad Humair.
Life imprisonment was awarded to Rohail Amjad, Muhammad Shoaib, Ihtesham Zaib, Imran Riaz, Sajid Amin, Zaigham Mehdi, Ali Hamza, Luqman Haider and Abdul Saboor. The court ordered the main convicts to pay Rs200,000 as compensation to the legal heirs of the deceased. Those who were awarded life imprisonment would also pay Rs200,000 as fine and Rs200,000 as compensation to the victim’s family, said the verdict.
Priyantha Kumara was a manager of a factory in Sialkot, the employees of which, including protestors from outside, lynched him following allegations of blasphemy.
The incident had garnered outrage and condemnation from across the country, with lawmakers, academics, civil society all calling for quick punishment.
The Anti-Terrorism Court had charged 89 individuals with sections from the Pakistan Penal Code and the Anti-Terrorism Act.
The trial was conducted in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail and presided over by Justice Natasha Nadeem.
Media reports have said that the challan indicated that the evidence used included videos, digital proofs, DNA, forensic evidence, and eyewitnesses.
The investigation also made use of 10 digital video recorders in the factory while suspects were apprehended by using footage recorded from mobile phones of 55 of the accused.
Lawyers have termed the verdict historic, saying it will strengthen the rule of law, besides limiting mob attacks in the future.