On Monday, April 18, Pakistan’s anti-terrorism court in Lahore sentenced six men to death, while nine people were handed life imprisonment sentences. The court also gave a 5-year imprisonment sentence to one individual, while 72 individuals were given a 2-year jail sentence.
The ruling was for the brutal mob lynching that killed Priyantha Kumara, a 48-year-old Sri Lankan factory manager in Sialkot, Pakistan.
On December 3 last year, a mob attacked and killed Kumara over blasphemy allegations. His body was also burned.
The now-former Prime Minister, Imran Khan, called the December 3 incident a “horrific vigilante attack.” Khan also said that the attack had caused public shame in Pakistan.
According to the Associated Press, Armagan Gondal, police chief of Sialkot District, said Kumara was preparing the factory for a site visit. Kumara asked factory workers to remove any stickers on the machinery.
Workers then started accusing him of “desecrating posters bearing the name of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.”
Sugeeswara Gunaratne, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, demanded that Pakistan “take the required action to investigate and ensure justice.”
The prosecution brought 43 witnesses, including Kumuara’s colleagues. One of Kumara’s coworkers who tried to help him was shoved. Forensic analysis of the footage from the office camera, including footage taken from social media, was conducted.
In Pakistan, blasphemy-related violence is increasing, despite the government’s efforts to curve public violence related to blasphemy charges and despite the blasphemy laws.
Abdul Rauf Wattoo, the lead prosecutor, said they worked hard to present Kumara’s case to the court and get a verdict. “We are satisfied with the outcome,” Wattoo added.