Federal Law Minister Babar Awan has said that the statements of some witnesses in Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s murder trial are missing from the court record and described this as the “greatest dishonesty” he had encountered in his career.
Talking to reporters at the residence of former advocate general Maqbool Elahi Malik here on Saturday, Awan said that the Pakistan Peoples Party had no political motive in reopening the case. The party was not seeking revenge for the Lahore High Court’s decision to hang Bhutto, but to correct a historic injustice.
He said that he was “shocked” to see that the court record did not include the statements of witnesses who supported Bhutto’s defence. He said that he had seen the entire record.
Awan said the law permitted only the president to file a reference for reopening of a case, not the prime minister or cabinet. He said that the president’s reference highlighted at least 12 legal points supporting the argument that the case should be reopened.
The minister said there was a consensus the world over that Bhutto was the victim of a “judicial murder”. He said South Korea had recently reopened a similar case after 50 years.
He thanked the Supreme Court for agreeing to hear the reference. He said that some politicians’ statements on the subject amounted to contempt of court. He said that the judiciary had a “golden opportunity” to right the wrongs of the court that convicted Bhutto.
Maqbool Elahi Malik said he was willing to appear before the Supreme Court if asked to do so. He said the truth, that Bhutto was hanged by people who openly opposed him, should come out.
This was an apparent reference to Maulvi Mushtaq, then chief justice of the LHC. He said that when he heard about the potential reopening of the reference, he felt young again.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2011.
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