Taseer murder case not to be referred to military court: Pak HC

A Pakistani court hearing appeal against death sentence of a former police bodyguard convicted for the 2011 murder of ex-Governor of Punjab province Salman Taseer who had sought reform of blasphemy laws, said on Tuesday the case will not be referred to a military court.

PTI| Updated: Feb 04, 2015, 00:44 AM IST

Islamabad: A Pakistani court hearing appeal against death sentence of a former police bodyguard convicted for the 2011 murder of ex-Governor of Punjab province Salman Taseer who had sought reform of blasphemy laws, said on Tuesday the case will not be referred to a military court.

As the Islamabad High Court heard the appeal of Mumtaz Qadri, a large number of his supporters, including some lawyers and workers of extremist Sunni Tehreek party, rallied outside the court, demanding his release.

The court said that since the case was in appeal stage, it cannot be sent to the military courts which are trial courts.

Former chief justice of Lahore High Court Khawaja Sharif, who is among the defence team, said that there were news in media that Qadri's case would be sent to newly set up military court.

A two-member bench of the IHC comprising Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi and Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui re-issued a notice to Taseer's legal team, which was absent during the hearing.

The next hearing is fixed for tomorrow but the case may be adjourned as the case file having evidence against Qadri mysteriously disappeared last week and the court official are trying to reconstruct it with the help of record available with police.

The defence team is expected to present arguments against the conviction of Qadri who was given death sentence by an anti-terror court for killing Taseer outside an upmarket coffee shop in Islamabad in 2011.

Qadri has admitted shooting Taseer, saying he objected to the politician's calls to reform strict blasphemy laws which can carry the death penalty.

Qadri was garlanded by right-wing lawyers, including Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, after he was brought to court soon after he had killed the Governor.

The same Siddiqui was later appointed as a judge and now he is hearing Qadri's appeal against his conviction.

After Qadri was convicted in 2011, dozens of furious lawyers ransacked the courtroom of the judge who had sentenced him to death.