Death sentence for Qadri over Taseer's murder
A Pakistan court has sentenced to death Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri for the murder of one of the country’s top liberal politicians earlier this year. Salman Taseer, Punjab governor and member of the main ruling Pakistan People’s Party, was shot dead outside an upmarket coffee shop in the capital, Islamabad on 4 January.
Qadri, Taseer’s bodyguard, immediately confessed to the crime and said he was killed because he wanted to reform a controversial blasphemy law. The law sentences to death anyone who is convicted of defaming the prophet Mohammed.
No-one has ever been executed under the law. Sentences are usually overturned or commuted.
Taseer’s murder was praised by hundreds of hardline Islamists who have demanded Qadri’s release from prison.
Judge Pervez Ali Shah announced the verdict at an anti-terrorism court sitting behind closed doors in the high-security Adiyala prison in the capital's twin city of Rawalpindi,
More than 500 people demonstrated outside the prison chanting slogans in support of Qadri. Protestors later blocked off a main road to the city by setting tyres alight.
Despite the death sentence, it is not sure whether Qadri will be executed. According to Amnesty International, Pakistan has had an informal moratorium on executions in place since late 2008.
Taseer’s killing was the most high profile assassination in Pakistan since former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was murdered in an attack on a Rawalpindi election rally in December 2007.