The court sentences six to death and dozens more to jail for the murder of a Sri Lankan man accused of blasphemy.
A Pakistani court has sentenced six people to death after convicting them for their role in last year’s attack. vigilante killing of a Sri Lankan factory manager accused by workers of committing blasphemy.
The six sentenced to death were found guilty of murder of Priyantha Kumara Diyawadana in a case that outraged many Pakistanis. The Lahore Anti-Terror Court, installed inside a high-security prison, also sentenced nine people to life imprisonment, five years in prison to one and two years to 72, according to a statement from the prosecutor.
Diyawadana was killed in December by workers at a sporting goods factory in eastern Pakistan’s Sialkot district, where he was a manager.
Few topics are as exciting in Pakistan as blasphemy, and even the slightest suggestion of an insult to Islam can intensify protests and incite lynchings.
“The prosecution team worked very hard to present their case in court and reach this sentence,” Abdul Rauf Wattoo, the lead prosecutor, told AFP.
“We are satisfied with the result.”
The special anti-terrorism court was established to speed justice in high-profile cases that could otherwise take years to process.
At the time of the murder, local police officers told AFP that rumors were spreading that Diyawadana had torn down a religious banner and thrown it in the trash.
Several gruesome videos shared on social media showed a crowd beating the victim upside down while chanting anti-blasphemy slogans. Other clips showed Diyawadana’s body on fire.
Many in the crowd made no attempt to hide their identity and some took selfies in front of the burning corpse.
Rights groups say accusations of blasphemy can often be used to settle personal vendettas, with minorities largely targeted.
In April 2017, university student Mashal Khan was lynched by an angry mob after he was accused of posting blasphemous content online.
A Christian couple was lynched and their remains burned in an oven in Punjab in 2014 after being falsely accused of desecrating the Koran.