July 29 (UPI) — A man was shot and killed in a courtroom in Pakistan on Wednesday while standing trial on charges of blasphemy.
Police in Peshawar said Tahir Ahmad Naseem was shot six times during a hearing in his case on allegations he claimed to be a prophet.
“The culprit accepts responsibility for killing him and says that he killed him for having committed blasphemy,” police official Ijaz Ahmed said. “[The suspect] has been arrested from the scene.”
Footage of the shooting showed the alleged gunman sitting on a bench under police guard saying he had been ordered to kill Naseem in a dream. He was also seen attacking judges who hear blasphemy cases.
Naseem had been in police custody since 2018 when he was accused of committing blasphemy by claiming to be a prophet.
He was charged with having violated three sections of the Pakistani penal code, which deal with blasphemy against Islam and “defiling the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad” which carries a mandatory death penalty.
No one has been executed under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, but at least 77 people have been murdered in extrajudicial killings and mob violence since 1990.
Saeed Zaher, a lawyer who was present at the courthouse during the shooting, said members of the public are allowed to observe trials but an observer being able to smuggle a weapon would constitute a security breach.
“A person entering with a pistol and murdering someone within a courtroom is very disturbing,” Zaher said.