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Governor's accused killer makes unscheduled court appearance

By Nasir Habib, CNN
Muhammad Mumtaz Qadri received a warm reception from supporters upon his arrival at court last week in Islamabad.
Muhammad Mumtaz Qadri received a warm reception from supporters upon his arrival at court last week in Islamabad.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Qadri confesses to the killing to a judge, police say
  • He is ordered to stay in jail until his next court appearance later in the month
  • He has been hailed as a hero in some quarters
  • Thousands carry banner to show support at a rally

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- The security guard accused of assassinating the governor of Punjab's province was presented in court Monday -- a day ahead of schedule, ostensibly to avoid the warm reception he received at his last appearance.

In an unplanned appearance at an Islamabad court, Muhammad Mumtaz Qadri confessed to killing Governor Salman Taseer, said Hakim Khan, the official in charge of the police station where Qadri was being kept in custody.

Qadri was then taken to anti-terrorism court in the neighboring city of Rawalpindi. He was ordered taken to prison until his next appearance on January 24.

Authorities said they presented Qadri in court a day before his scheduled appearance because police had completed its investigation.

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But Qadri's defense lawyer Malik Waheed Anjum thinks otherwise.

"Qadri was produced in the court one day before the hearing just to avoid from his warm reception by the people who love him," he said.

Qadri has been hailed as a hero in some quarters for gunning down Taseer, a liberal lawmaker who had spoken out against the country's blasphemy laws, which make it a crime punishable by death to insult Islam, the Quran or the Prophet Mohammed.

Two days after the shooting on Tuesday, crowds converged on the courthouse during Qadri's appearance. They cheered slogans in support of him and showered him with garlands.

And on Sunday, when thousands of people gathered in Pakistan's southern city of Karachi to show their support for Pakistan's current blasphemy laws, a number of them carried banners calling Qadri a hero.

 
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