ISLAMABAD: Former Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Khawaja Sharif will defend Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, in court on Tuesday, confirmed Lawyer Raja Shujaur Rehman.
Justice Khawaja was appointed Chief Justice of the LHC on April 12, 2009 and retired on 8 December 2010 on attaining the age of superannuation. He was appointed to the court on May 21, 1998.
The CJ remained deposed from the bench from November 3, 2007 till March 17, 2009 when he was restored.
The Divisional bench (DB) of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), comprising of Chief Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman and Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi will hear the case at 10:30am in the IHC.
Qadri had filed an appeal before the IHC earlier challenging his death sentence. An anti-terrorism court (ATC) sentenced Qadri to death earlier this month on two counts for the murder of Taseer. The self-confessed killer’s defence pleas, which invoked religious sentiments and argued the accused was provoked into the act, were dismissed by the court.
Qadri, a constable in the Punjab Police and a member of its Elite Force, tried to justify his murder of the governor by stating that he had killed him for supporting Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman whom Taseer had believed had been wrongly convicted of committing blasphemy.
Terror in the courts
Qadri's trial has remained a controversial one, with violent protests being taken out across Pakistan against the verdict.
Additionally, the Anti-Terrorism Court Judge Pervaiz Ali Shah who passed the death sentence for Qadri was transferred to Lahore on Friday amid protest from religious groups.
The ATC judge who had sentenced Malik Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, was transferred to Child Protection Court Bureau in Lahore, merely a month after he was posted to Rawalpindi.
The judge had been unable to perform his duty due to the hostility of a certain group of lawyers and other religious groups who had been asking the authorities to hand Shah over to them.
The lawyers had earlier asked the government to transfer the judge to some other city. The Rawalpindi District Bar had passed a resolution giving a five-day deadline to the government. The decision came after the nationwide strike by religious parties on Friday.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly mentioned Justice Riaz Ahmed Khan instead of Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi, this has been fixed. The error is regretted.