The self-confessed assassin appealed his death sentence which lies before IHC.
A cold-blooded murder in broad daylight, a self-confessed assassin in custody, but a year on, former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassination is not a resolved chapter.
After a ten month long trial, the self-confessed assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, was awarded death sentenced by the Anti-Terrorism Court on October 1, 2011.
The trial judge, Syed Pervaiz Ali Shah, observed in his verdict that while a ‘blasphemer’ is wajibul qatl (deemed to be killed), and can only be forgiven by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself, the case raised two major questions.
First, who declares one a blasphemer, and two, if one is declared as such, who will execute them?
The judge decreed that individuals cannot be given the authority to determine a person a blasphemer, infidel or non-Muslim.
Besides, individuals cannot be allowed to execute the punishment because it would pave the way for anarchy and turmoil in society, the judge added.
The judge also rejected Qadri’s defence of acting on sudden provocation.
“The statements of the governor about blasphemy laws were published in 2010 and the murder was committed on January 4, 2011,” the judge observed.
“Further it was not the plea of the accused that the deceased made these remarks in his presence. The accused himself put a provocative question to Taseer as he was coming out of restaurant and it was not the deceased who provoked the killer,” the judge added.
The conviction sparked countrywide protests by Qadri’s supporters, and in Rawalpindi, lawyers of district bar association forced the Lahore High Court (LHC) chief justice to transfer Shah, the trial judge.
Qadri, represented by former LHC chief justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif, appealed his conviction at the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
The court admitted the appeal for regular hearing on October 12, 2011.
Qadri, in his appeal, has argued that he did not commit a murder but killed a blasphemer and that the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) could not grant him death sentence for murdering an individual.
His lawyers have further argued that the trial court, while handing down death sentence on two counts to Qadri, avoided Islamic jurisprudence laws.
They have further maintained that the ATC in Rawalpindi was not legally allowed to conduct the trial of the former constable in Adiala jail, since he did not commit any offence related to terrorism.