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Salman Taseer’s killer gets death sentence


Islamabad : The bodyguard who gunned down Punjab governor Salman Taseer in January this year was found guilty and sentenced to death Saturday by a Pakistani court, a media report said.

The sentence was handed down by the Anti-Terrorism Court sitting in Rawalpindi.

Taseer was shot dead Jan 4 by Mumtaz Qadri who was a member of the governor’s special security squad.

Geo News reported that Qadri was sentenced to death for killing Taseer who had urged reforms to the blasphemy law.

Judge Pervez Ali Shah heard the case in Adiala Jail.

The court said that no one could be given the licence to kill someone. Hence, the killer cannot be pardoned as he has committed a heinous crime by murdering Taseer.

The guard’s lawyers said that he has the right to appeal against the verdict in the high court within seven days.

Qadri confessed to killing Taseer as he objected to his call to amend the blasphemy law. Under Pakistan’s penal code, anyone who “defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet” can be punished by death or life imprisonment.

The killing took place over the Aasia Bibi case.

Aasia Bibi, a mother of five, had begun facing problems in June 2009 in her village, Ittan Wali, in which hers was the only Christian household. A group of Muslim women and Aasia were picking berries when a row took place.

The women claimed she had insulted the Prophet. She was then pursued by a mob that attempted to kill her.

Taseer’s assassin Mumtaz Qadri had been deployed in the security squad of high-profile people, including President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, despite being declared a “security risk” for such assignments six years ago.

Qadri performed a total of 509 VIP and VVIP duties since he was declared a security risk for these tasks in 2004, said a report compiled by intelligence agencies.

The other politicians with whom Qadri performed guard duties included Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, and Interior Minister Rehman Malik. He performed all these security duties from April 24, 2008, to Jan 4, 2011.

The report reveals that Qadri was also member of a team for raids conducted by Military Intelligence and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) against terrorist outfits in 2008.

Qadri was deployed as personal security guard of governor Taseer on four occasions – April 15, 2010, May 26, 2010, Sep 3, 2010, and Jan 4, 2011, it said.