PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Monday rejected the bail applications of two accused in the brutal killing of Mashal Khan and directed the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC), Peshawar to conclude their trial within two months.

The order was issued by a single bench of Justice Muhammad Nasir Mehfooz while hearing the bail applications of Sabir Mayar and Izharullah alias Johnny, both of whom requested their release on bail till the trial is completed by the ATC. Both the accused in their petition “ensured” they will be appearing before the trial court whenever they need be and will cooperate with the authorities.

Mashal’s father, Muhammad Iqbal was represented by Barrister Amirullah Chamkani, Ayaz Khan, and Fazal Khan Advocate. They contended that there is no law which validates bail to an accused charged under the Anti-Terrorism Laws.

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The judge after hearing arguments rejected their plea of bail and order that both will stay locked up till the trial is completed. The court also directed the ATC to speed up the trial and conclude it within two months.

Mayar, who remained a proclaimed offender for 11 months in the Mashal murder case, handed himself over to Mardan police on March 19, 2018, while Izharullah was arrested from the Saddar area of Mardan on an intelligence tip-off in April.

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Mashal Khan, a 23-year-old journalism student of the Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, was killed on April 13, 2017, by a violent mob on the pretext of committing blasphemy. After the investigation, it was found that no blasphemy was committed and the lynching was ruled a politically-motivated murder.

An Abbottabad ATC has already convicted 31 of the 57 accused in the case, awarding death sentence to the prime accused, life imprisonment to five other convicts and three-year jail terms to 25 others. However, Mashal’s family and the K-P government have challenged the verdict in the PHC contending the awarded punishment is insufficient.