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Pakistan sentences man to death in student’s lynching

February 7, 2018

FILE - In this April 22, 2017 file photo, members of a Pakistani civil society group demonstrate against the killing of an university student Mohammad Mashal Khan, in the northwestern city of Mardan, in Karachi, Pakistan. On Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, a Pakistani court sentenced a man to death over the lynching of the 23-year-old student who was falsely accused of blasphemy. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan, File)

HARIPUR, Pakistan (AP) — A Pakistani court on Wednesday sentenced a man to death and convicted 30 others over the lynching of a 23-year-old university student who was falsely accused of blasphemy, officials said.

Mohammad Mashal Khan was killed by a mob on his university campus in April 2016 over rumors, which later proved to be unfounded, that he had shared blasphemous content on social media.

Blasphemy against Islam is punishable by death in Pakistan, and mere allegations are often enough to provoke mob violence.

An anti-terrorism court on Wednesday sentenced the man to death and handed life sentences to five other people in connection to the lynching. Another 25 people were sentenced to four years, and 26 others were acquitted for lack of evidence.

Shaukat Ali Yusafzai, a government spokesman, said it will challenge the acquittal of the 26. Khan’s brother, Mohammad Aimal, welcomed the verdict.

The trial was held at a high-security prison in the northwestern town of Haripur, in part due to concerns that radical Islamists might target the hearing or witnesses.

Update hourly