Pak's anti-terrorism court acquits over 80 Christians in lynching cases

M Zulqernain

Lahore, Jan 30 (PTI) An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan has acquitted over 80 Christians after the complainant entered into a compromise with the accused who were allegedly involved in lynching of two Muslim men and vandalism following a suicide attack on twin churches in Lahore in 2015.

On March 15, 2015, two blasts occurred at Roman Catholic Church and Christ Church during Sunday service in Youhanabad, Lahore, killing 15 Christians and leaving 70 wounded.

The attack was followed by mob violence killing two men mistaken as militants. The bombings occurred during prayers at two churches in thickly-populated Youhanabad that is home to more than 100,000 Christians.

Anti-Terrorism Court Lahore Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta announced the verdict on Wednesday after legal heir of the deceased - Muhammad Naeem and Babar - pardoned 41 suspects.

'The victim and accused families reached an out of court settlement after the latter submitted a statement saying they had forgiven the suspects and had no objection if they were acquitted,' a court official said.

The court also gave the benefit of the doubt to 47 other suspects accused of arson, rioting and vandalism in the aftermath of the attack on the churches.

Hundreds of Christians had smashed vehicles in a rare show of anger by the beleaguered minority community.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan's Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction claimed responsibility for the attack. PTI MZ ZH ZH