Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pakistan: Death threats from Islamist extremists

Reports: Pakistani Judge Flees To Saudi Arabia After Death Threats
10/25/2011 7:22 PM ET
(RTTNews) - The Pakistani judge who convicted a security guard for killing a senior politician for speaking out against the country's blasphemy laws, has fled to Saudi Arabia with his family after receiving death threats from Islamist extremists in home nation, reports quoting officials said Tuesday.

Judge Pervez Ali Shah of the special anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi had handed down the death penalty to Malik Mumtaz Hussein Qadri earlier this month for killing Salman Taseer, leader of the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Governor of the eastern province of Punjab, in January.

Judge Pervez had convicted Qadri on two counts of intentional murder and terrorism. Qadri had admitted to the killing of Taseer in Islamabad on January 4, stating that his actions were driven by religious beliefs. Qadri was one of the police bodyguards assigned to protect Taseer when he opened fire on the Punjab governor.

Local reports quoted Saiful Malook, a public prosecutor in the Qadri case, as saying on Tuesday that Judge Pervez and his family were sent to Saudi Arabia by the federal government to protect his life and that of his wife and children.

Taseer, an outspoken critic of rising Islamist militancy in Punjab, was one of Pakistan's most important political figures. His murder was the most blatant political assassination in Pakistan since the killing of former Prime Minister and PPP leader Benazir Bhutto in December 2007.

The killing of Taseer had evoked contrasting response in Pakistan, with some praising the former Punjab governor for opposing the blasphemy laws ad others glorifying Qadri for killing him. Protests by hardline Islamists erupted across Pakistan after Qadri was sentenced to death on September 10 by Judge Pervez.

by RTT Staff Writer

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