Monday, February 14, 2011

Guard pleads guilty to Pakistani governor\'s murder

February 14, 2011 Islamabad:

The confessed killer of a liberal Pakistani governor pleaded guilty Monday to murder, telling a judge he didn\'t regret gunning the politician down because he killed \"an apostate\" as required under his interpretation of Islamic law, lawyers said.

Mumtaz Qadri shot dead Punjab province Gov. Salman Taseer in January while serving as part of his security escort.

Qadri has told authorities he killed Taseer because the governor spoke out against harsh Pakistani blasphemy laws that impose the death sentence for insulting Islam.

The assassination horrified Pakistan\'s relatively small liberal elite, but many in the population - including the religious establishment and some legal circles - have praised Qadri, showing the spread of fundamentalist thought in Pakistan.

An anti-terrorism court indicted Qadri on a murder charge in a closed session in the city of Rawalpindi, defense lawyer Shuja ur Rahman Raja said.

When the judge asked Mumtaz Qadri if he\'d intentionally killed Taseer, the 26-year-old said what he did wasn\'t illegal.

\"I treated an apostate as he was supposed to be under Islamic laws\", Qadri replied, according to his lawyer.

The court will continue to evaluate the case before sentencing. It ordered prosecutors to produce witnesses and evidence in a hearing set for Feb 26.

Thousands have rallied in support of Qadri, demanding his release, and there have been reports that getting prosecutors to show up to hearings has been a challenge.

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