Qadri indicted, says has no regrets for killing an ''apostate''

Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Feb 14 (PTI) A Pakistani police guard todaysaid he had no regrets for gunning down "apostate" PunjabGovernor Salmaan Taseer for his opposition to the blasphemylaw, as an anti-terrorism court indicted him for theassassination.

Mumtaz Qadri, 26, who has already admitted gunningdown Taseer outside a restaurant in Islamabad on January 4,was indicted on a murder charge during in-camera proceedingsat Adiala Jail in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, his lawyerssaid.

The judge said Qadri had committed terrorism and askedhim if he had intentionally killed Taseer.

Qadri claimed his action was not illegal as he haddealt with "an apostate" according to the Quran and Islamiclaws, a member of the policeman''s defence team told the media.

There was confusion on whether Qadri had pleadedguilty, with some members of his defence team telling themedia that he had "pleaded not guilty".

The judge scheduled the next hearing for February 26,when evidence and witnesses will be presented by theprosecution.

Prosecutors had stayed away from several earlierhearings in Qadri''s case, apparently due to security concerns.

Qadri had surrendered after firing at Taseer and saidhe had been angered by the politician''s opposition to theblasphemy law and his support for Asia Bibi, a Christian womansentenced to death last year for allegedly insulting ProphetMuhammad.

Qadri was part of the security detail for Taseer, whowas hit by 27 bullets.

The assassination of the liberal politician dividedPakistani society after religious hardliners and even groupsof lawyers hailed Qadri as a hero.

The developments also showed how religious extremismhad penetrated society, and many analysts blamed thisphenomenon on laws and policies introduced by the regime oflate military ruler Zia-ul-Haq.

Some persons came to Adiala Jail with Valentine''s Daycards and flowers today to express their support for Qadri.

At earlier court appearances, Qadri was feted andshowered with rose petals.

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