Ameer Hussain Rizvi and Mohammad Ali sentenced for taking part in violent protests over Asia Bibi's acquittal in 2018
RAWALPINDI: An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Rawalpindi on Thursday handed 86workers of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), including TLP Chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi’s brother and nephew,55-year sentences each after finding them guilty of terrorism and related charges.
The sentences were handed down for the convicts' participation in violent protests following the acquittal in 2018 of Asia Bibi from the blasphemy case against her, reported The News.
Bibi’s conviction was overturned by Pakistan’s highest court on October 31, 2018. However, she had to be kept in protective custody despite orders of her immediate release due to the threats to her life posed by far-right parties, which had reacted strongly to the Supreme Court's judgement.
The TLP had led days-long protests following the verdict, joined by other religious parties, which had left roads blocked and paralysed routine life in major cities of the country.
Police had rounded up a large number of suspects in the aftermath of those protests.
The verdict in the cases against them was announced late Thursday night by ATC-I Rawalpindi.
Police had arrested the TLP chief along with his brother, nephew and others on November 24, 2018, on charges of creating unrest in the country.
The 86 were charged with damaging public property, beating people up and disrupting normal life by staging sit-ins against Bibi’s acquittal earlier that year.
The court also awarded two years’ imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs50,000 each against Ameer Hussain Rizvi, his son Muhammad Ali, Qari Mushtaq and Gulzar Ahmed after finding them in possession of illegal weapons. In case of non-payment of the fine, the accused will face extra imprisonment of 146 years.
Pir Ejaz Ashrafi, a senior TLP leader, told the Associated Press thatthe sentences would be appealed.
"Justice has not been done," Ashrafi told AP. "We will challenge the verdicts."