Appeal filed against ATC verdict in Priyantha Kumara lynching case

At least two accused who were convicted by a trial court for their involvement in the lynching of Sri Lanka citizen Piryantha Kumara in Sialkot over blasphemy allegations have challenged the decision of the anti-terrorism court (ATC) over the “violation of the cardinal principle of justice”.

In an appeal filed by Taimoor Ahmed and Muhammad Ahmed, their lawyer Hafiz Israrul Haq termed the conviction illegal and said that his clients were not nominated in the FIR and in a supplementary statement. He said no identification parade was held, adding that the name of the eyewitness was not even mentioned in the FIR.

Taimoor had been awarded a death sentence on two counts and 11-year rigorous imprisonment while Muhammad had been awarded eight years of rigorous imprisonment for involvement in the crime.

“There are glaring contradictions between the complainant and other witnesses which makes the case of the prosecution doubtful. The prosecution witnesses who appeared in the witness box are interested, inimical to the accused as one of the prosecution witnesses Adnan Malik, whom the factory workers believed as a hero, was the main accused and his evidence cannot be believed to award punishment,” the appeal alleged.

Read Nation outraged at Sri Lankan’s lynching by mob

According to the appeal, the lynching took place out of reach of the CCTV cameras but the court still admitted “inadmissible evidence of footage of mobile phones”. It said the makers of these videos neither appeared before the court nor did they share the original source of the video.

“There is established principle of criminal law that if some plea is spelling out from the circumstances of the case benefit of that is to be given to the accused in spite of his denial of occurrence,” it added.

“It is a cardinal principle of justice that accused is entitled to very little doubt and in this case, so many infirmities were available which created doubts in the prosecution story, the judgment is harsh and against the settled principle of law,” the appeal added. It termed the judgement of the trial court an “outcome of misreading and non-reading of the evidence available on the record”.

They prayed that the impugned judgement be set aside.

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On April 18, at least 88 convicts had been convicted by the ATC while one accused was acquitted. The court awarded the death sentence to six accused while nine people were awarded life terms. At least 72 were sentenced to two years of rigorous imprisonment each on three counts and one year each on two counts.

Kumara, a factory manager in Sialkot, was killed in December 2021 by a mob over blasphemy allegations. His body was violated and set on fire by the angry mob. The killing had drawn widespread condemnation.

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