Islamabad: A Pakistani high court on Monday acquitted four death row convicts citing lack of evidence, overturning an anti-terrorism court's ruling to execute them for their involvement in a suicide attack at a Shia mosque that killed 19 people.
The Lahore High Court's Rawalpindi bench overturned the 2004 decision of the ATC which had handed down death penalty to Fazal Mohammad, Tahir Mehmood, Hafiz Naseer and Habibullah.
At least 19 people were killed and 35 others injured in the suicide attack at Shah-i-Najaf Imambargah in Rawalpindi in 2002.
A two-member bench of the LHC, comprising Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin, heard the case wherein the defendants pleaded not guilty. The court acquitted them due to lack of evidence.
The acquittal came just days ahead of proposed changes in the constitution to set up military courts to try the militants and people involved in terrorist activities. It aimed to address the undue delay in the prosecution of militants.
Pakistan ended its six-years-old moratorium on the death penalty in terror cases last month after the horrific terror attack on an army-run school in Peshawar killed 150 people, mostly children.
Seven convicts have been hanged so far after the Nawaz Sharif-led government lifted the moratorium.