A Pakistani policeman jailed for murdering a senior politician in a religiously-motivated attack incited a prison guard to shoot an elderly British man convicted of blasphemy, according to an internal inquiry.
Mohammad Asghar, whom British doctors say is seriously mentally ill, was shot and wounded by a guard at Adiyala jail in Rawalpindi, close to Islamabad, last month.
The 70-year-old was sentenced to death for blasphemy in January for claiming to be a prophet of Islam in a case that has prompted concern from British Prime Minister David Cameron.
The prison guard Mohammad Yousuf had spent more than two weeks guarding Mumtaz Qadri, who killed Punjab governor Salman Taseer three years ago, a senior jail official said.
He said an initial inquiry by a four-member committee found that Qadri had also prepared two other prison officers to hunt down blasphemy convicts in the prison.
The claims will heighten concerns about staff being radicalised by hardline inmates in Pakistan’s ageing and overcrowded prisons.
Qadri, who was Taseer’s bodyguard, shot him dead at an Islamabad coffee shop over the politician’s call for Pakistan’s tough blasphemy laws to be reformed.
Qadri was feted as a hero by a wide section of the public including lawyers, and was even showered with rose petals as he arrived at court for a trial hearing.
The official’s account of events was supported by three other prisoners held in the same part of the jail, who said guards regularly took religious instruction from Qadri.
A second prisoner who saw the attack said a guard appeared in the wing and demanded to know where Asghar was.
He said Asghar was trying to hide in the bathroom area of his cell while the gunman was firing at him.
Asghar, diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in Britain in 2010, had declared his prophethood in court and included a reference to it on his business card, a government prosecutor said at the time of his trial.
Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan, where 97 percent of the population is Muslim, and insulting the Prophet Mohammed can carry the death penalty.