'Blasphemy' murder: 31 convicted over lynching of Mashal Khan

7 February 2018, 12:29

Thirty-one people have been convicted of murder after the lynching of a student falsely accused of blasphemy.

Mashal Khan, 23, was attacked and killed by an angry mob at Abdul Wali Khan University in the northwest of Pakistan in April.

He was stripped, beaten and shot before being thrown from the second floor of his campus dormitory.

Imran Ali, who shot Mr Khan three times, has been sentenced to death.

Mr Khan, who was a Muslim, was known to enjoy debating controversial social, political and religious issues.

His brutal murder, which took place after a dormitory debate about religion, was captured on mobile phones and shared online.

His murder sparked outcry and prompted discussion over Pakistan's harsh blasphemy law, which carries a death sentence for insulting Islam or the Prophet Muhammad.

Of the remaining 56 accused - made up of students, teachers and some university officials - five were sentenced to life imprisonment, and 25 were jailed for four years.

Twenty-six were acquitted due to a lack of evidence.

All those accused had pleaded not guilty.

Mr Khan's family - who say they have faced threats since the murder - welcomed the convictions, but are considering whether to challenge the court over the acquittals.

While Pakistan's blasphemy death penalty has never been officially put into practice, allegations alone are enough to provoke mob violence.

At least 67 people have been killed over unproven blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to human rights groups.