RAWALPINDI, Pakistan, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Dozens of supporters of Mumtaz Qadri shouted slogans Monday outside a court hearing for the accused assassin of a Pakistani governor, authorities said.
The crowd gathered at an anti-terrorism court at the Rawalpindi jail where a procedural hearing was held for the 26-year-old Qadri, a security guard who confessed to the Jan. 4 killing of Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab province, the BBC reported.
Qadri has been hailed as a hero by religious groups in a country facing mounting violence from extremist and terrorist elements.
The hearing for submission of a police report was closed to the public and media, and was attended only by defense lawyers, the judge and the accused, the report said.
Qadri has said he shot and killed the liberal Taseer because he had supported changing the country's harsh blasphemy laws under which a person can be sentenced to death for criticizing Islam, the Koran or the Prophet Mohammed.
Pakistan's News International reported police and investigators are considering how to question two clerics alleged to have instigated Qadri to commit the killing. A trial court already granted them pre-arrest bail after rejecting a prosecution plea that the two be held in custody. Lawyers for the clerics have denied any instigation by them.
The report, citing Qadri's confession, said the two clerics had sought, in public speeches, to convince their audiences Taseer deserved to be killed for blasphemy.
Investigators must wait until the expiration of the pre-arrest bail before taking their next step against the two clerics.