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Pakistan hangs man who killed governor in blasphemy row

The executed man was convicted of killing the governor of Punjab province over the politician's call to reform the country's strict blasphemy laws.

Pakistan Mumtaz Hussain Qadri

Security officials are shown detaining Mumtaz Qadri (right)

Mumtaz Qadri, a former police bodyguard who killed liberal Punjab governor Salman Taseer in 2011, was hanged early Monday in a prison in Rawalpindi. Local police officials confirmed the execution took place.

Army Rangers and police in riot gear as well as ambulances and dozens of police vehicles were stationed outside Qadri's home in the city early on Monday, blocking the street and refusing to allow people to enter.

The subject of blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan, which is an Islamic republic. Qadri has been hailed as a hero by many conservatives eager to drown out any calls to soften the legislation.

Qadri shot Taseer 28 times in broad daylight in an upscale market in Pakistan's capital Islamabad. He later admitted to the killing, and said he objected to Taseer's calls to soften Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws.

Critics, including European governments, have said that Pakistan's blasphemy laws are largely misused, and hundreds of people are languishing in jails under false charges.

Qadri's lawyers drew on Islamic texts to argue that he was justified in killing Taseer, and said that by criticising the law, the politician made himself guilty of blasphemy. The argument was rejected by the lead judge.

Qadri lost a petition for the Supreme Court to review his sentence in December last year.

av/gsw (AFP, Reuters)

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