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Death Sentence Upheld In 'Blasphemy' Killing Of Pakistan Governor

A Pakistani court has upheld the death sentence for the killer of a politician who sought blasphemy law reform, but dropped a terrorism conviction, making it unlikely he will be executed soon.

The Islamabad High Court dismissed an appeal against the death sentence by Mumtaz Qadri, a former bodyguard who fatally shot Punjab governor Salman Taseer in Islamabad in January 2011.

Qadri admitted shooting Taseer, saying he objected to the politician's calls to reform Pakistan's strict blasphemy laws, which can carry the death penalty.

The court struck out Qadri's conviction on terrorism charges.

Pakistan lifted a moratorium on executions in December -- but only for convicts in terrorism-related cases -- after Taliban gunmen massacred more than 150 people at a school in Peshawar.

Authorities have hanged 24 terrorism convicts since December, but the moratorium remains in force for those sentenced to death on other criminal charges.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

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