06/23/2011, 00.00
PAKISTAN

Islamabad: first (odd) arrest for the murder of Catholic Shahbaz Bhatti

On 19 June police detained Hafiz Nazar Muhammad, and he will remain in jail until 25 for interrogation. The man is accused of involvement in the assassination of Minister for Religious Minorities. Bhatti's home village a documentary on the life of the "martyr".
Islamabad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Islamabad police have arrested a man suspected of involvement in the murder of federal minister for religious minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic, who was assassinated last March 2. The police are interrogating Hafiz Nazar Muhammad, traced through mobile phone mapping. The suspect was arrested last June 19, imprisoned in the barracks I-9 Islamabad and charged under Article 302/34 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). The custody will be extended until June 25 for further investigation, although at present there is no evidence or testimony to confirm his involvement.

A Rawalpindi court judge has granted for five days of detention to allow police to question the suspect about possible accomplices. Nazar apparently phoned a lawyer belonging to religious minorities - Sargohda Tahir Chaudhry Nazeer – and confided that he knows the killers of Shahbaz Bhatti. Intercepted the call triggered his arrest.

According to the police reconstruction, which raises many concerns and questions, Nazar qas a close collaborator of the Catholic lawyer’s for at least 10 years. Police sources, reports The Express Tribune also add that the prisoner claims to be a Christian pastor and had unresolved personal issues against Bhatti.

Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Catholic minister in the executive of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani, was killed March 2 last year in Islamabad. In the assault against his car - unprotected and without bodyguards - 30 rounds of gunfire were fired. The attack was claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, because of his positions against the law on blasphemy and for having championed the cause of Asia Bibi, a 45 year old Christian mother of five children on death charged under the "black law". In early January, Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab was "executed" for the same reasons.

A few days ago 43 minute documentary on the life and work of the former Catholic minister, entitled: "A tribute to the martyr Shahbaz Bhatti", was released. The film was produced by Shadow Organization (http://shadoworganization.blogspot.com ) and presented in the Church of St. Fedelius in Khushpur, village in the district of Faisalabad (Punjab), where the late minister was born.
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