Salman Taseer murder: IHC upholds death sentence of Mumtaz Qadri
ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court (IHC) upheld Mumtaz Qadri’s death sentence on Monday under Section-302 of the Pakistan Penal Code for killing former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer.The court further declared Qadri’s death sentence under the Anti Terrorism Act null and void.
An anti-terrorism court handed down double death sentences for murder and terrorism to Qadri in late 2011. However, the self-confessed killer of the former governor Punjab had filed an appeal in the court against his conviction which the IHC dismissed.
Taseer’s former bodyguard, Qadri, shot him outside an upmarket coffee shop in Islamabad in 2011, saying he objected to the politician’s calls to reform strict blasphemy laws.
Earlier, Qadri’s case took an interesting turn when the IHC remarked that even a judge cannot touch an accused after awarding him punishment, yet the defence counsel insisted that a person can kill another person under unusual circumstances.
Judges Noorul Haq Qureshi and Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui dismissed the appeal.
Earlier, on February 7 when the two judges resumed hearing in the case of the case, Justice Siddiqui questioned whether the case should be decided on the basis of emotions or the letter of the law.
Counsel for Qadri Justice (retd) Mian Nazir Akhar insisted that “anyone can be killed under unusual circumstances.” Quoting examples from Islamic history, he mentioned incidents in which blasphemers were killed for making derogatory remarks against the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and their act was appreciated by the then rulers.
However, the judge observed that at that time the nature of things was different and the said team had judicial powers.
The legal heirs of Salmaan Taseer filed an application before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday, requesting it to reject the murder appeal of Mumtaz Qadri.
The ruling was a surprise to many who had expected the killer’s sentence might be reduced amid growing threats to lawyers and judges hearing blasphemy-related cases.
Qadri has been hailed as a hero by many conservatives eager to drown out any calls to soften blasphemy legislation. The killing highlighted a growing gulf between conservatives and more liberal elements in society.
At his original trial, Qadri was showered with rose petals by some lawyers. His current appeal team features two judges, including the former chief justice of Lahore High Court.
The judge who convicted Qadri was forced to flee the country after death threats.
Reporters and other members of the public were not allowed into Monday’s hearing. Qadri’s lawyer could not be reached for comment immediately.
Several TV channels reported the verdict and footage showed police sealing the court building with barbed wire soon after the verdict was announced.