02/29/2016, 10.08
PAKISTAN
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Violence feared as Pakistan hangs Salman Taseer’s murderer

by Jibran Khan

Mumtaz Qadri’s death sentence was carried out early this morning hours of today. The detainee met with family before execution. His funeral planned for this afternoon, with expected mass participation of Islamic radicals, who have already blocked the streets of Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi. Qadri is considered a "national hero" for killing the former Punjab governor, critic of the blasphemy laws.

 

Rawalpindi (AsiaNews) - Mumtaz Qadri, the confessed murderer of former Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer, was hanged in the early hours of this morning. The death sentence was confirmed last week by the President of Pakistan, Mamnoon Hussain, after the request for a pardon presented by Qadri’s lawyer was denied. The hanging has sparked protests from Qadri’s supporters, who hail him as a "national hero" for having defended the blasphemy laws.

The death sentence was carried out at 4:30 (local time) in the Adyala prison in Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad. A few hours before the inmate was able to meet the family for the last time. His body was handed over to family members, who organized the funeral for the afternoon today.

Qadri's death has been condemned by the Islamic associations in the country, who have blocked the streets of Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi. His supporters are also expected at the funeral, and the security forces have stepped up the alert level in the most sensitive areas.

On 4 January 2011, Qadri, one of Taseer's body guards, killed the governor as he left a restaurant in Islamabad, over his positions against the blasphemy law, which imposes life imprisonment or the death sentence for those who desecrate the Qur’an  or the name of the prophet Muhammad.

Qadri has always claimed responsibility for the murder saying he wanted to punish the governor, who had also spoken in favour of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman charged with insulting the Prophet.

Qadri’s defence team has argued that the Federal Shari'a Court had jurisdiction in this case because their client acted in defence of Islam. For the lawyers, the accused murdered Taseer because the latter had spoken out against the blasphemy law, calling it "black law" and, therefore, had to be considered a blasphemer.

Qadri was sentenced to death in October 2011 by an anti-terrorism court, a decision that was upheld by the Islamabad High Court in February 2015 on the grounds that nothing justified “the murder of the victim”. Last October, his lawyers’ appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan was also rejected.

Last week President Hussein rejected the request for a pardon, depsite the pressure from teh radical Islamic wing and direct personal threats. 

 

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