A planned court appearance for Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the killer of Governor Punjab Salman Taseer, ran into chaos on Thursday as extremist supporters prevented an attempt to re-locate the session, witnesses said.
Mumtaz Qadri, who was assigned to Salman Taseer’s security detail and confessed to the killing, was charged and ordered to appear before the Anti-Terrorist Court in Rawalpindi on Thursday.
But as a growing crowd of extremist lawyers and madrassah students descended on the building in support of Qadri, authorities instead drove him to a makeshift court hastily set up in a heavily protected building in Islamabad.
But the crowd in Rawalpindi set up a cordon in protest, preventing the judge from leaving for Islamabad, lawyers and an AFP reporter said.
“We requested the judge that legally he cannot go to Islamabad to hear the accused and he accepted our request,” lawyer Malik Waheed Anjum told reporters.
“The judge ordered Islamabad police to present the accused in his court in Rawalpindi,” he added.
More than seven hours after journalists first gathered at the Rawalpindi court for the expected hearing, Qadri finally arrived and was feted with rose petals by supporters for the second day running.
Police officials in Islamabad were unavailable for comment.