Musharraf to be charged with Benazir Bhutto’s murder


Islamabad, 30 July (PTI): Former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf will be charged with criminal conspiracy and murder of ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on August 6, even as his bail plea in the Akbar Bugti killing case was rejected on Tuesday.

Musharraf was produced in an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi amidst tight security for Tuesday’s hearing in the Bhutto assassination case headed by judge Habibur Rahman.

Rehman fixed August 6 to be the date to formally charge 69-year-old Musharraf.

The former President’s indictment would be an unprecedented move in a country ruled by military for more than half of its life.

The Rawalpindi court is hearing the case of the killing of two-time prime minister Bhutto.

Bhutto was assassinated in a gun-and-bomb attack outside Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh on December 27, 2007, while Musharraf was president. She was killed after addressing an election campaign rally in the city.

State prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar Ali told media that “Musharraf will be produced at the next hearing on August 6”.

The charges relating to criminal conspiracy and murder will be read out before Musharraf and he will have to sign the chargesheet, he said.

Rehman ordered the police that the accused should be present in the court to sign the charge sheet and respond to the charges.

Musharraf was not produced in court in the last two hearings due to security reasons, prompting the judge to reprimand the police and order them to present the accused or make arrangement for hearing of the case in the jail.

Also today, the judge restored the frozen bank accounts and assets of Musharraf.

The request for restoration was made by Musharraf’s lawyer Ilyas Siddiqui.

Following the adjournment, Musharraf returned to his Chak Shahzad residence in the suburbs of Islamabad, which had been declared sub-jail.

The ATC had named Musharraf in the case in February 2011, and in August the same year he was declared a proclaimed offender and his property was attached because of his absence.

In a related development, the Balochistan High Court rejected Musharraf’s bail application in the Akber Bugti murder case.

A two-member bench of the Balochistan High Court, comprising Justice Naeem Afghan and Justice Mustafa Mengal, heard the case.

Besides the Bhutto assassination case and the Akbar Bugti killing case, Musharraf also faces charges in the judges detention case during the 2007 emergency.

Musharraf returned to Pakistan from self-exile in March to take part in elections in May but his nomination was rejected by the election commission due to a slew of cases against him.


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