Dubai: In a landmark ruling, an Anti-Terrorism Court late on Wednesday sentenced five men to death on two counts for their involvement in the burning alive of a Christian couple in Kot Radha Kishan — a small town near Lahore in 2014.
ATC-I Judge Chaudhry Mohammad Azam imposed a fine of Pk Rs200,000 (Dh7,000) on the five men identified as Mehdi Khan, Riaz Kambo, Irfan Shakoor, Mohammad Hanif and Hafiz Ishtiaq ─ a local prayer leader ─ for their involvement in the lynching, according to a report published in Pakistan’s English Dawn newspaper. Eight others have also been charged with involvement in the lynching and sentenced to two years each in prison.
“We welcome this ruling as it will prove a deterrence against those who misuse blasphemy law,” said John Qadir, an expatriate in Dubai.
According to the court, the five men who were handed over the death penalty gathered a mob by making announcements over a mosque loudspeaker and incited them to violence. As a result of which, around 400 people took part in the lynching of Shahzad and Shama for their alleged role in desecrating the Holy Quran in November 2014. Both husband Shahzad Masih and Shama and wife were brick kiln workers.
The mob had tortured the couple before putting them into the kiln’s furnace.
The mob held hostage five policemen who tried to rescue the couple. The villagers also manhandled some media personnel and snatched their cameras.
Police registered a case against 660 villagers, including 60 who were named as suspects in a First Information Report lodged on the complaint of Sub-Inspector Mohammad Ali in Kasur district.