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Eight Charged Over Pakistani Student's 'Blasphemy' Murder

People hold a rally in support of Mashal Khan, who was killed by a mob of fellow students for alleged blasphemy at Abdul Wali Khan University.

Court officials say eight Pakistanis who brutally murdered a fellow university student over his views were charged with murder and terrorism on April 15.

A group of students at the Abdul Wali Khan University in the conservative northwestern city of Mardan beat Mashal Khan to death within the university premises on April 13, accusing him of sharing blasphemous content on social media.

"Eight students were presented before an antiterrorism court in Mardan over murder and challenging the writ of the state," public prosecutor Rafiullah Khan said.

Four others were arrested on April 15, Khan said.

Video footage of the attack shows the victim, identified as 23-year-old Mashal, lying on the ground surrounded by men and being beaten with wooden planks.

Khan was buried on April 14 in his hometown of Swabi, some 100 kilometers northwest of Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.

The government had also requested Peshawar High Court to conduct a judicial probe into the incident, said Mushtaq Ghani, the information minister of the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive charge in conservative Muslim Pakistan, and can carry the death penalty. Even unproven allegations can cause mob lynchings and violence.

At least 65 people have been murdered by vigilantes over blasphemy allegations since 1990.

The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has urged that all those involved in the lynching be brought to justice.

Based on reporting by AFP and