No arrest warrant against clerics who inspired Taseer killer

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Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Jan 18 (PTI) A anti-terrorism court hasrefused to issue arrest warrants for two clerics whose fieryspeeches reportedly incited the police guard who gunned downPunjab Governor Salmaan Taseer for criticising Pakistan''scontroversial blasphemy law.

Investigators probing the governor''s assassination hadsubmitted an application to Rawalpindi-based anti-terrorismcourt Judge Malik Mohammad Akram Awan seeking warrants for thearrest of the unnamed clerics.

The judge rejected the application yesterday thoughinvestigators told him that Mumtaz Qadri, the Elite Forcepersonnel who killed Taseer, had said he was motivated byspeeches delivered by the two clerics at a religiouscongregation held near Qadri''s house at Sadiqabad inRawalpindi on December 31.

The court was informed that investigators wanted toquestion the clerics about their speeches in which they hadreportedly justified the killing of all blasphemers.

Though Qadri has claimed he was solely responsible forthe assassination, he has also admitted he was motivated bythe speeches of the clerics and killed the Governor as heconsidered him a blasphemer.

Despite the arguments put forward by the prosecution,the judge refused to issue the arrest warrants.

One of the clerics is employed as a teacher atMadrassa Darul Uloom Zia at Chirah Road in Muslimabad,Rawalpindi, while the other works at Amna Masjid in the sameneighbourhood.

Shortly after the Governor''s assassination on January4, the clerics relocated to another religious seminary inRawalpindi to avoid arrest.

Investigators feared there would be law and orderproblems if they raided this seminary to arrest the clericsbecause over 2,000 students live in the madrassa, officialssaid.

In a separate development, Islamabad ChiefCommissioner Tariq Mehmood Pirzada has issued a notificationfor conducting Qadri''s trial inside Adiala Jail due tosecurity concerns and the law and order situation.

The notification was issued in response to a requestmade by Islamabad Police.

Investigators are yet to determine whether Qadri actedon his own or was part of a wider conspiracy.

Qadri was assigned to protect VIPs like Taseer, thePrime Minister and the President despite being declared a"security risk" in 2004 because of his extremist leanings. PTIRHL SAZ AKJ

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