An anti-terrorism court on Monday sentenced 88 convicts and acquitted one as it announced its verdict in Sri Lankan citizen Piryantha Kumara’s lynching case.

The trial court awarded death sentence on two counts to six convicts – Taimoor, Abdul Rehman, Muhammad Irshad, Ali Husnain, Abu Talha and Muhammad Humair – along with payment of Rs200,000 as compensation to the legal heirs of the deceased under Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 7 of the Anti-terrorism Act, 1997.

Nine convicts – Rohail Amjad, Muhammad Shoaib, Ihtesham Zaib, Imran Riaz, Sajid Ameen, Zaigham Mehdi, Ali Hamza, Luqman Haider and Abdul Saboor – have been awarded life imprisonment along with payment of Rs200,000 fine each and Rs200,000 as compensation to the legal heirs.

Seventy-two convicts were sentenced to two-year rigorous imprisonment each on three counts and one year each on two counts.

Accused Ali Asghar has been awarded a sentence of five years and Bilal has been acquitted of the charges.

Piryantha Kumara was working as a general manager at Rajco factory in Sialkot. On December 3, 2021, he had been murdered by a mob on the allegations of blasphemy. Later, the mob set his body on fire. An FIR was registered in Ugoki police station in Sialkot.

During the course of investigation, the police had arrested 89 accused, including nine juveniles. After completion of investigation on March 4, 2022, the prosecution submitted two separate challans in the Gujranwala anti-terrorism court.

Punjab Public Prosecution Department Secretary Nadeem Sarwar constituted a prosecution team comprising senior and experienced prosecutors – Abdul Rauf Wattoo and others – for an effective and efficient prosecution of the case.

The trial of the case was conducted by the Gujranwala ATC judge at Lahore Kot Lakhpat Central Jail. The trial court on March 5, 2022 supplied the copies of documents to the accused persons and the charge against the accused persons was framed on March 12, 2022.

During the trial on the request of the prosecution, the court ordered security measures for the protection of the witnesses under the Punjab Witness Protection Act 2018 read with the Punjab Witness Protection Rules 2019 and the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.

The prosecution produced as many as 43 witnesses to prove the charges against the accused. In this case, the prosecution relied upon ocular account, forensic audio, video and documentary evidence and completed the evidence within a period of less than a month. After completion of the prosecution evidence, the trial court provided ample opportunity to the accused and their advocates to defend the case.

The police department and especially the investigating officer applied conventional as well as modern techniques during investigation. In this case, the police prosecution department cooperated with each other to bring the offenders to justice and the case is said to be the best example of police prosecution cooperation.

Despite threats received from various corners, the prosecution team remained unperturbed and worked very hard to conclude the case.

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