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Pakistan court suspends death sentence of governor's killer

By Shaan Khan, For CNN
updated 5:08 AM EDT, Tue October 11, 2011
Hard-line Islamists protest against court verdict sentencing convicted killer Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, in Karachi on October 7.
Hard-line Islamists protest against court verdict sentencing convicted killer Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, in Karachi on October 7.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A terror court sentenced Qadri to death for Taseer's death
  • The Islamabad High Court suspends the sentence
  • Qadri was part of Governor Taseer's security detail when he shot him
  • His attorney says Qadri's death sentence is illegal

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- A Pakistani court has suspended the death sentence of Mumtaz Qadri, a security guard who killed a liberal politician over the latter's remarks on the nation's controversial blasphemy law.

"Qadri was provoked by the governor and should therefore be tried for murder, not an act of terror which is what he was tried for earlier" said his attorney Raja Shuja Ur Rehman in confirming the judge's decision.

Earlier this month, a terror court in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, near Pakistan's capital, sentenced Qadri to death. The Islamabad High Court suspended the sentence Tuesday until the appeals process is complete.

The court did not say when it will meet again to consider the case.

Police said Qadri, a policeman serving as a security guard for Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer, fatally shot him in a market in Islamabad on January 4 because of Taseer's remarks on Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law.

Police said Qadri confessed to gunning down the man he was supposed to be protecting.

Qadri's lawyer appealed the sentence imposed by the Anti-Terrorist Court, saying the court did not have the jurisdiction to make the death penalty decision.

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

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