Islamabad: Two clerics accused of motivating the police guard who assassinated Governor Salmaan Taseer have been granted pre-arrest bail by a Pakistani anti-terrorism court.
Mufti Hanif Qureshi and Qari Imtiaz Shah, both Rawalpindi-based clerics, were granted bail against surety bonds of Rs 200,000 each by the court on Thursday.
Police will now be unable to question the suspects till January 25 though they are wanted to ascertain their links with Mumtaz Qadri, the Elite Force personnel who killed Taseer. However, the court has directed the clerics to
cooperate with police. The lawyer claimed the clerics were not involved in motivating Qadri. The FIR registered for Taseer`s murder did not name the clerics, the lawyer told the court.
The lawyer further claimed the clerics were innocent and were being harassed by police. Earlier, the court had denied police warrants to arrest the clerics.
Investigators had earlier said Qadri had links to both clerics and had attended rallies during which they spoke against persons who had criticised the blasphemy law.
Qadri has said he gunned down Taseer for his opposition to the controversial law. Sleuths have reportedly obtained a video that shows Qadri attending a sermon by Qureshi on blasphemy.
Police have claimed Qureshi instigated hatred against Taseer and this could have motivated Qadri to kill the governor. However, police officials told The Express Tribune newspaper that the clerics were likely to be acquitted by court because the evidence against them was not strong.