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Pre-arrest bail granted to clerics extended

A Pakistani anti-terrorism court has extended till February 1 the pre-arrest bail granted to two radical clerics accused by police of motivating the police guard who assassinated Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer earlier this month.

world Updated: Jan 26, 2011 13:48 IST

A Pakistani anti-terrorism court has extended till February 1 the pre-arrest bail granted to two radical clerics accused by police of motivating the police guard who assassinated Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer earlier this month.

Mufti Hanif Qureshi and Qari Imtiaz Shah, the two clerics who are believed to have abetted assassin Mumtaz Qadri, were granted the extension of their pre-arrest bail by the Rawalpindi-based court on Tuesday.

Qadri, who gunned down Taseer in Islamabad on January 4, has told investigators that he offered Friday prayers on December 31 in a mosque at Muslim Town in Rawalpindi, where the two clerics made speeches criticising attempts to amend the blasphemy law and remarks made by Taseer.

In a statement made to police, Qadri reportedly said he decided to kill Taseer for criticising the blasphemy law after hearing the speeches by the clerics.

Raja Shujaur Rehman, the counsel for the clerics, told the court on Tuesday there was no evidence that showed that their actions had abetted the killing of Taseer.

The clerics said their names were not mentioned in the First Information Report registered at Kohsar police station in Islamabad and claimed they had been implicated at a later stage by police to justify the accusation of abetment of the murder.

The clerics also claimed they were implicated in the case in a bid to harass them and others who were sympathetic towards Qadri.