The Lahore High Court on Tuesday granted bail to two detained police officers accused of negligence in the 2007 murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
A division bench of the LHC headed by Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry admitted bail petitions of former Rawalpindi city police chief Saud Aziz and former Rawalpindi city SP Khurram Shehzad in the Benazir Bhutto murder case.
The court directed them to submit surety bonds of Rs1 million each. It also ordered them to submit their passports before the trial court till final decision of the case so they could not leave the country.
The petitioners were deputed to ensure Benazir’s security at the Liaquat Bagh where she addressed a rally on December 27, 2007 and was assassinated while she was leaving the venue.
The police officers were held responsible for hosing down the crime scene and creating hurdles in conducting the ex-premier’s autopsy.
They denied the charges and contended that they had been implicated in the offence by others who wanted to save their own skin.
Arguing for his clients, Khwaja Sultan maintained that the blast did not take place in the presence of Saud, so no role could be attributed to him.
He countered the allegation that Saud stopped Benazir’s post-mortem and submitted that it was on Asif Ali Zardari’s asking that the autopsy could not be conducted. How could my client seek post-mortem when her spouse was not willing to get the same done, the attorney posed the query.
He also contended that the washing of the crime scene was not ordered by his client but by a Major of the MI, but the blame was shifted to his client.
For the respondent, Azhar Chaudhry advocate contended that the higher authorities in a meeting on November 25, 2007 had assigned the security of Benazir Bhutto at Liaquat Bagh to Saud but he neglected his duty and left the scene unprotected.
He said the petitioner knew that Benazir was under threat from Baitullah Mahsud and sensitive agencies had also informed about the entry of two terrorists in the city, but the officer failed to adequately perform his duty, which resulted in the tragic killing.
He contended that Benazir was also passed through a less-secure route than a secured one which was deliberately blocked by containers.
Khwaja Sultan argued that the FIR did not mention names of the petitioners and no evidence incriminating them for the offence is on the record.
Azhar Chaudhry held that as former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf was found involved in the killing, Saud’s link was proved with him. He said soon after the incident, his mobile phone remained busy and probably he was on phone with Musharraf.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2011.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ