Benazir Bhutto’s Murder: Court Declares Musharraf an Absconder
Pervez Musharraf among accused; court declares the former President an absconder in the case.
Five persons were acquitted, while two have been sentenced to prison in former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination case, reported Pakistani media on 31 August. The Anti-Terrorism Court also declared former President Pervez Musharraf an absconder in the case and ordered that all of his properties be seized.
Former Director Inspector General Saud Aziz and Superintendent of Police Khurram Shehzad were sentenced to 17 years imprisonment for aiding the crime, along with a fine of Rs 5 lakh.
Almost 10 years after Bhutto was killed after addressing an election rally in Rawalpindi on 27 December 2007, the Anti-Terrorism Court delivered its verdict.
Pervez Musharraf’s Trial Will Be Held Separately
The trial of the former military ruler and the then President Pervez Musharraf was also an accused in the case. His trial would be held separately upon his return to Pakistan.
The five suspects – Rafaqat Hussain, Husnain Gul, Sher Zaman, Aitzaz Shah, and Abdul Rashid – who were were arrested soon after the assassination, were acquitted. The main trial of the five suspects began in January 2008, while Musharraf, Aziz and Shahezad were implicated in 2009 after a fresh probe by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
Eight different judges, who heard the case during this period, were changed due to various reasons.
Initially, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Baitullah Mehsud was accused for murdering Bhutto, and Musharraf’s government released a taped conversation of Mehsud with a certain operator in which he was congratulating the operator for the murder.
However, FIA chief prosecutor Mohammad Azhar Chaudhry, in his concluding arguments, disowned the audio record and transcript of the telephonic conversation, terming it “a cooked up story” by Musharraf to mislead the investigators and to save himself.
(With inputs from PTI)
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