An anti-terrorism court is likely to formally indict seven accused men in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case on August 27, the next date of hearing.
The court will formally initiate the trial of Hasnain Gul, Rafaqat Hussain, Abdul Rasheed, Aitzaz Shah, Sher Zaman affiliated with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, former city police officer Rawalpindi Saud Aziz, and former SP Khurram Shahzad for their alleged role in the murder of the former premier outside the historic Liaquatabad Bagh on December 27, 2007.
Special Judge Shahid Rafique was informed on Saturday that the prosecution had provided certified copies of investigation reports, legal documents and incriminating evidence to the lawyers of the seven accused facing the trial. The two police officers’ lawyers had been demanding copies of the statements of all police officers and politicians accompanying Bhutto to prepare their defence.
The court directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) reinvestigating the case in the light of the UN commission inquiry report to send a last rejoinder to the GHQ and DHA authorities for details of former president Pervez Musharraf’s property, who is cited as a proclaimed offender in the case. The court will formally attach Musharraf’s movable and immovable assets and issue perpetual warrants for his arrest.
The FIA has accused Hasnain and Rafaqat with providing residence and transport to the suicide bomber, Rasheed Ahmed for being a part of the conspiracy and Aitzaz Shah, a minor and Sher Zaman for concealing the murder plot. Saud Aziz is accused of destroying vital evidence after the terror attack by hosing down the crime scene and not allowing Bhutto’s postmortem. SP Khurram is also accused of destroying evidence at the crime scene. Musharraf is accused of threatening Bhutto with dire consequences if she returned to Pakistan and of trying to influence the post murder investigation by arranging a premature press conference.
The court has already declared former TTP chief Baitullah Mehsud and six other activists as proclaimed offenders.
In a related development, the court directed the administration of the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) to award Rasheed Ahmed with the medal and certificate on the next date of hearing in Adiala jail for his performance in the secondary school certificate examination.
Rasheed alias Abdul Rasheed Turabi had obtained 848 out of 1050 marks. His lawyer informed the court that he stood third in the BISE among the boys in the humanities group but the jail authorities did not allow him to go to the BISE office to receive his award.
An official appeared in the court on Saturday and said the boy was formally invited but he was not taken to the ceremony for security reasons.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2011.