The self-confessed assassin of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer was formally indicted by an anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Monday.
During the course of hearing, which was held behind closed doors, Malik Mumtaz Qadri confessed to killing the former governor before Justice Raja Ikhlaq Ahmed.
Qadri was represented by Malik Mohammad Rafiq Khan and Tariq Dhamial while public prosecutor Saiful Malook was also present at the hearing. “The judge read out the charges to the accused,” Khan said outside the Adiyala prison in Rawalpindi.
“He did not reply to court’s query, ‘Are you guilty or not?’ He said he had not murdered anybody intentionally and had taught a lesson to an apostate, Dhamial told AFP after the hearing.
According to the three-page charge-sheet submitted before the court, Qadri has been booked under sections 7 of the Anti Terrorism Act and 302/109 of the Pakistan Penal Code on the complaint of Taseer’s son Shehryar Taseer in an FIR registered at the Kohsar police station. The hearing was adjourned till February 26.
The police had submitted an interim charge-sheet at the last hearing, booking in it two clerics, Qadri Mufti Qari Hanif Qureshi and Imtiaz Kazmi, under section 109 “for provoking Qadri to kill Salmaan Taseer”.
Qureshi and Kazmi were, however, acquitted by the court on February 1 on grounds that the police failed to come up with any evidence of their involvement in Taseer’s murder. Outside the prison, about 140 people rallied in support of Qadri, joined by 10 students from a government college who turned up with posters, Valentine’s Day cards and flowers.
“Celebrating Valentine’s Day with Mumtaz Qadri,” read one placard.
With additional input from AFP
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2011.
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