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Pakistan Catholic minister's alleged killer bailed

Suspect in Shahbaz Bhatti case freed on medical grounds reporter, Islamabad

July 11, 2014

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A Pakistani anti-terrorism court granted bail to Abdullah Omar, the prime suspect in the assassination of former minority minister Shahbaz Bhatti, the All Pakistan Minority Alliance said today.

Naveed Cheema, general secretary of the alliance, told that it will appeal against the court’s decision.

Bhatti, a Catholic and former Federal Minority Affairs Minister, was gunned down in broad daylight in the capital city Islamabad in March 2011.

In a pamphlet dropped beside Bhatti’s body, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. The pamphlet said that Bhatti was killed because he was a blasphemer.

Bhatti was a vocal critic of Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law and spoke out in defense of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, sentenced to death for blasphemy.

Judge Atiq ur Rehman accepted the bail plea on medical grounds and asked Abdullah to submit a surety bond of US$10,000.

During police interrogation, the suspect admitted killing Shahbaz Bhatti with the help of his two accomplices, Hamad Adil and Tanvir.

The case, which was already progressing slowly, suffered a major blow earlier this year when Paul Bhatti, the complainant and brother of Shahbaz Bhatti, had to leave Pakistan over threats to his life.

Paul Bhatti, head of All Pakistan Minority Alliance, an umbrella group of various minority organizations, told media that he was threatened by extremists not to pursue the case.

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