Pakistani mob leaders sentenced to death over blasphemy murder

Muslim mob who lynched Sri Lankan factory manager and burnt his body after accusing him of blasphemy acted against Islam, Pakistani court declares as it sentences six to death

  • Priyantha Kumara was tortured and burned to death by a mob in December 
  • The Sri Lankan manager of a factory was accused by blasphemy in Pakistan 
  • A video showed how a large group of men attacked and murdered Mr Kumara
  • Six men were sentenced to death, while 82 received prison sentences  

A Pakistani mob lynching of a Sri Lankan manager of a garment factory who was accused of blasphemy was an act against the Islamic religion, a court said in a detailed ruling on Tuesday.

The anti-terrorism court had on Monday sentenced six men to death, nine to life in prison, one to five years’ jail and another 72 to two years each in a mass trial over the crime. Eight of those sentenced were juveniles.

Scores of enraged workers in the city of Sialkot tortured and burned DDN Priyantha Kumara in December over accusations of blasphemy which a police official at the time linked to the removal of a poster with Islamic holy verses.

Almost 100 people were tried following the brutal murder of a Sri Lankan factory manager in Pakistan after a mob accused their victim of blasphemy

Six of the men were sere sentenced to death by a special anti-terrorism court 

‘The disgracing of a dead body and setting it on fire are strictly forbidden in Islam,’ the court ruled. ‘The Holy Prophet…forbade Muslims to disgrace the dead body of even a non-Muslim.’

The accused had disobeyed the Prophet Mohammed, added the court, which was set up inside a high-security prison.

Lynchings over accusations of blasphemy, both crimes that can carry the death sentence in Pakistan, have been frequent in the Muslim-majority country. The factory incident took place in the heart of Pakistan’s most heavily industrialised region.

Pakistani judges and courts have often delayed decisions in lynching cases out of fear of retribution, and a clear court declaration that lynching is un-Islamic is rare.

The court said Kumara begged forgiveness before being brutally killed, saying he did not know what was written on the poster because he could not speak the local Urdu language.

It said the mob chased him onto a roof and then ‘started hitting him again and again with scissors on his face, head and different parts of his body’. The attackers also inflicted ‘blows with a brick, kicks and fists to his head’.

Kumara died on the spot before his body was desecrated and dragged through his factory and out onto a highway where it was set on fire, the court said.

‘In our society, such incidents are increasing where a person is done to death by a mob on an allegation of blasphemy,’ it said. ‘These cases should be dealt with by iron hands.’

The victim begged for forgiveness for ripping down the posters as he did not understand the local Urdu language and was unaware they were quotes from the Koran 

Prominent suspects were arrested after video footage of the violence showed clear instigators who incited workers as they killed the manager, dragged him outside, took selfies with his burning body and proudly admitted what they did

Pakistani security officials inspecting the factory. The country’s blasphemy law carries the death penalty for anyone found guilty of the offense

Hundreds of enraged Muslims in eastern Pakistan lynched and publicly burned the body of a Sri Lankan sports equipment factory manager after he was accused of blasphemy 

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