Lawyer: Pakistan governor's killer appeals death sentence

Supporters carry portraits of Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, during a protest against the court verdict in Islamabad.

Story highlights

  • There was a protest Friday against the death sentence
  • Qadri was part of Governor Taseer's security detail when he shot him
  • A preliminary hearing is scheduled for October 11
  • His attorney says Qadri's death sentence is illegal
A security guard who killed a liberal politician in Pakistan over his remarks on the nation's controversial blasphemy law has appealed his conviction and death sentence, his defense lawyer told CNN Friday.
Mumtaz Hussain Qadri was given the sentence this month by a terror court in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, near Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.
Police say Qadri, a policeman serving as a security guard for Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer, shot him dead in a market in Islamabad on January 4 because of Taseer's remarks on Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law.
Police say Qadri confessed to gunning down the man he was supposed to be protecting.
Qadri's lawyer, Raja Shuja Ur Rehman, has appealed the sentence imposed by the Anti-Terrorist Court. The lawyer said he is arguing that the terror court did not have the jurisdiction to make the death penalty decision.
"Therefore the decision made by the court was illegal," Rehman said.
He said Qadri was "provoked" by Taseer, and that is what led to the death of the governor.
"Qadri should be tried under section 302C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which is punishable with up to 25 years in prison, not the death sentence," Rehman said.
Qadri's appeal was passed in the Islamabad High Court on Thursday and preliminary hearings should begin Tuesday, the lawyer said.
Immediately after the sentencing, Rehman had told CNN that his client did not want him to appeal. because "I can't wait to see (the Prophet) Mohammed in heaven," Qadri said, according to Rehman.
Taseer, a successful businessman as well as politician, had said Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law is too harsh. The law makes it a crime punishable by death to insult Islam, the Quran or the Prophet Mohammed. The legislation has been criticized by some as being used to entrap minorities.
Meanwhile, protesters came out on the streets of Islamabad Friday to protest Qadri's death sentence, said Asif Khurshid, the secretary of information for Jamaat al-Daawa, a Pakistani religious group
"Jamaat al-Daawa wants the release of Mumtaz Qadri, and have the case against him thrown out of court." Khurshid said.
He said the decision to stage a peaceful protest against the conviction of Qadri was made this week at a conference where more than 40 religious parties from across the country were present.