ISLAMABAD: The self-confessed killer of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, Mumtaz Qadri, filed an appeal before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday challenging his death sentence. The sentence was handed by Rawalpindi’s Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) on October 1.
Making his case through Sharia
Making the state the respondent, Qadri’s attorneys maintained in the appeal that the ATC was not the relevant authority in the trial, arguing that the case should have been heard in the Federal Shariat Court. They pleaded that Qadri’s case didn’t fall under section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code (the section under which he was convicted), as he had killed ‘a blasphemer while following the teaching of Islam’.
The appeal states that under section 6 of the Anti Terrorism Act, Qadri was not guilty of committing terrorism, as the murder of Taseer did not amount to ‘terror’, adding that the trial court had ignored Islamic jurisprudence laws.
“The decision of the ATC is illegal and the elements of terrorism as defined in section 6 of the Anti Terrorism Act are completely lacking in the present case,’’ maintained his lawyers.
The lawyers added in the appeal that ATC judge announced the death sentence without hearing the point of view of the defendant, which is also against the law.
Citing his supporters
Qadri’s lawyers further contended that there was no evidence on record to show that any panic or sense of insecurity was created among the public at the time of his murder which could help define the act as terrorism – instead, people ‘heaved a sigh of relief after the killing of the blasphemer’.
Chief Justice IHC Iqbal Hameedur Rehman accepted the appeal and fixed the date for argument on October 11. The Divisional Bench of the IHC will most likely hear the case.
Over dozens of Sunni Ittehad Council activists and Qadri supporters gathered in front of the IHC and raised slogans in favour of the self-proclaimed murderer. The demonstrators also raised slogans against Judge Syed Pervez Shah for awarding him the death sentence.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2011.