An anti-terror court in Pakistan has sentenced six men to death for their role in the mob killing of a Sri Lankan factory manager accused of committing blasphemy.

The court has also given life sentences to nine people, five years' imprisonment to one person, and two-year sentences to 72 others. Eight of these people were juveniles.

48-year-old Priyantha Kumara was working as a factory manager in Sialkot when he was brutally tortured, beaten to death and his body eventually set ablaze by a mob in December last year. The angry mob lynched Priyantha Diyawadana for alleged blasphemy. A video of the incident had also gone viral on social media and showed people taking pictures with his body.

The mob had accused Diyawadana of removing a poster bearing words from the Quran from the walls of the sports equipment factory where he used to work as a general manager. The videos, which had then made it to social media, showed Kumara being chased onto a roof, beaten with sticks and stripped before being set ablaze by a blood-thirsty mob.

Breaking: An Anti-terrorism court in Pakistan's Lahore sentenced 6 murderers to death involved in Sri Lankan citizen Priyantha Kumara's lynching in Sialkot last December. Seven sentenced to life imprisonment, while 76 people from the mob were sentenced to 2 years in jail.

— Haroon Janjua (@JanjuaHaroon) April 18, 2022

According to a report in The Dawn, the accused were traced through social media videos retrieved from their mobile phones. "The prosecution team worked very hard to present its case to the court and to reach this judgement, "the lead public prosecutor told AFP. "We are satisfied with the outcome."

Pakistan has some of the harshest blasphemy laws in the world that have attracted sharp criticism from rights groups. Minority communities including Islamic sects face frequent persecution in the Muslim-majority country, where the state religion is Islam.

In 2017, an angry mob lynched university student Mashal Khan who was found to be falsely accused of blasphemy. In 2015, Muslims beat to death a Christian couple and burned their bodies in a brick kiln for allegedly desecrating the Quran.

A court in Pakistan had sentenced two Christians and a Muslim to death for blasphemy in 2016. The three men were said to have made derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad in an audio recording. At least 84 people were accused of committing blasphemy last year alone, according to data provided by the Centre for Social Justice.

Pakistan blasphemy mob lynching
People hold signs as they chant slogans to condemn the killing of Mashal Khan, student of Abdul Wali Khan University after he was accused of blasphemy, during a protest in Karachi, Pakistan Akhtar Soomro/Reuters