Pakistan’s PM pledges severity with suspects after Sri Lankan man lynched

Pakistan’s PM pledges severity with suspects after Sri Lankan man lynched
Members of a civil society group participate in a demonstration to condemn Sialkot’s lynching incident, in Lahore, Pakistan (KM Chaudary/AP)

Pakistan’s prime minister told Sri Lanka’s president that more than 100 people have been detained in the lynching of a Sri Lankan factory manager and suspects will be “prosecuted with the full severity of the law”.

Imran Khan said in a tweet that he spoke to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by phone to convey the country’s anger and shame and assure him that justice would be done for Friday’s “vigilante killing” of Priyantha Kumara.

A mob of hundreds of enraged Muslims descended on the sports equipment factory in the district of Sialkot in Punjab province after the Sri Lankan manager of the factory was accused of blasphemy.

The mob grabbed Mr Kumara, lynched him and publicly burned the body, according to police.

Factory workers accused the victim of desecrating posters bearing the name of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed.

The charred body of the victim will be transported to Islamabad.

From there, Sri Lankan embassy officials will take the coffin home, officials said.

In the conservative society of Pakistan, mere allegations of blasphemy invite mob attacks.

Businessmen pose to put candles and rose petals next to the portrait of a Sri Lankan manager of a sports equipment factory, as they pay tribute to him outside the office of Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Sialkot, Pakistan (Shahid Ikram/AP)

The country’s blasphemy law carries the death penalty for anyone found guilty of the offence.

Police have arrested 13 suspects and detained dozens of others allegedly involved in the attack.

Punjab police chief Rao Sardar said investigators were examining footage from some 160 closed circuit television cameras to ascertained the role of potential suspects and 10 teams were conducting raids to net more suspects.

Pakistan’s government has long been under pressure to change the country’s blasphemy laws, a move Islamists strongly resist.

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