Six men were sentenced to death and dozens more were sentenced to prison terms ranging from two years to live in Pakistan on Monday for the brutal mob slaying of a Sri Lankan factory manager cite to blasphemy.
Last December’s vigilante attack in Sialkot sparked outrage, with then-Prime Minister Imran Khan calling it a “day of shame for Pakistan.”
Few issues in Pakistan are as energizing as blasphemy, and even the slightest hint of an insult to Islam can spark protests and lynchings.
Prosecutors announced on Monday that 88 of the 89 people on trial for Priyantha Kumara’s murder had been convicted, with six sentenced to death, nine to life in prison, and the others to prison terms ranging from two to five years.
“The legal team worked hard to present its case to the court and to get this judgment,” Abdul Rauf Wattoo, told AFP. “We’re pleased with the outcome.”
The trial was presided over by a special anti-terrorism court, which was established to expedite justice in high-profile cases that could otherwise take years to resolve.
Local police officials told AFP that at the time of the killing, rumors circulated that Kumara had ripped down a religious poster and thrown it in the trash.
Several gruesome video clips circulated on social media showed a mob beating the prone victim while chanting anti-blasphemy slogans.
Other footage showed his body being set on fire.
Many members of the mob made no attempt to conceal their identities, and some even took selfies in front of the burning body.
Mashal Khan, a university student, was lynched by an enraged mob in April 2017 after he was accused of posting blasphemous content online.
In 2014, a Christian couple was lynched and their bodies were burned in a kiln in Punjab after being falsely accused of desecration of the Holy Qur’an.