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Pak court upholds death for 3, acquits 2 in Christian couple's killing

Press Trust of India  |  Lahore 

An anti-terrorism court in on Thursday upheld death sentences for three men but acquitted two others including a who had incited people to burn alive a Christian couple accused of on the outskirts of in 2014.

The victims - and his pregnant wife - worked as labourers at the brick kiln of Yousaf Gujjar in Kot Radha Kishan. A mob of around 1,000 people allegedly led by the kiln owner lynched and brutally killed the couple on charges of in November 2014.

In November 2016, the anti-terrorism court (ATC) had awarded death sentence to five suspects including

In March 2018, the court acquitted 20 other suspects accused of burning alive the Christian couple, giving them a benefit of doubt.

On Thursday, the High Court acquitted convicts - Ishtiaq and - and upheld death sentences of other three convicts - Mehdi Khan, and

The for the convicts told the court that the ATC awarded them death without taking the law into consideration. The (five) convicts had been nominated at a later stage in the case and pleaded for their acquittal, he said.

High Court Justice ordered acquittal of Ishtiaq and Hanif and dismissed the plea of other three convicts.

Ishtiaq had allegedly provoked the villagers through announcement from area mosques against the Christian couple. The couple was severely tortured, dragged and thrown into the furnace of the kiln by the mob.

The police had booked 660 villagers and nominated 60 of them in the FIR. The autopsy report submitted to the in December 2014 stated that the victim couple was still alive when they were thrown into the kiln.

In 2015, the ATC had indicted over 100 suspects under Pakistan's anti-terrorism act for 'the use or threat of action to coerce and intimidate the government or the public or create a sense of fear or insecurity in society.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, May 16 2019. 19:16 IST