Court orders Musharraf be probed in Bhutto’s murder

Islamabad, April 23 (IANS) A Pakistani anti-terrorism court, conducting the trial of suspects charged with involvement in the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, Tuesday ordered that former president Pervez Musharraf be included in the investigation process.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), which is investigating the Bhutto assassination, told the court in the garrison city of Rawalpindi that the former military ruler has not yet been formally included in the case, reported Xinhua.

Judge Chaudhry Habib-ur-Rehman directed the FIA to complete the investigation and submit a report in the apex court. The hearing was adjourned until May 3.

Musharraf has been accused of failing to provide adequate security to Bhutto when she returned to Pakistan from exile in 2007. She was killed in a suicide bombing and firing in Rawalpindi shortly after she addressed an election rally.

The court had previously declared Musharraf an “absconder” and issued an arrest warrant for him after he failed to cooperate with investigators when he was living in self-exile. He returned last month and also got interim bail in the case. The court will hear his bail in this case Wednesday.

The court earlier directed authorities to attach his properties and to freeze his bank accounts.

The FIA prosecutors told the court that the former president is allegedly involved in the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto because of his failure to provide her adequate security.

Musharraf, despite being aware of the imminent danger to Bhutto’s life, did not take the requisite security measures to prevent her assassination, according to a 57-page investigation report submitted earlier before the court.

Pervez Musharraf appeared before the court where his supporters and a group of anti-Musharraf lawyers clashed, leaving two lawyers injured. The two sides beat each other and later angry lawyers used sticks and beat some of Mushararf’s supporters. The lawyers also smashed windows of a car of Mushararf’s men.

Musharraf has dismissed all charges as politically motivated and insisted that he had warned Benazir Bhutto of imminent threats to her life. He also said that he had advised Benazir Bhutto not to return to the country in view of threats but she had ignored his advice.

The former president is also facing high treason charges for abrogation of the constitution when he imposed emergency rule in 2007.

Five individuals have filed petitions for high treason proceedings in the Supreme Court. However, the interim government has refused to pursue the case because of its limited role. The interim government has prayed to the apex court to leave the case to the next elected government.

Musharraf, who ruled Pakistan from 1999 to 2008, has also been disqualified for the May 11 parliamentary elections due to criminal cases against him in court and for imposing emergency rule.

He is now leading his own All Pakistan Muslim League party.

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