An anti-terrorism court has ordered authorities to seize all of Pervez Musharraf’s property and issued a permanent arrest warrant in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case.
Special Judge ATC-III Shahid Rafique, who has been conducting the trial, on Saturday, directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to move for confiscating both the movable and immovable property and seizing bank accounts in Musharraf’s name, following his failure to appear before the court after he was included in the list of the accused.
Musharraf’s property details provided to the court by the FIA included a farmhouse in Chak Shahzad, Islamabad; a 1,000-square-yard plot in Gwadar and over Rs80 million in six different banks.
The FIA informed the court that they had sent letters and rejoinders to the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) as well as the General Headquarters (GHQ) authorities to provide the details of any property owned by the former president. However, no response had so far been received.
In February, the FIA cited Musharraf as one of the accused in the case and declared him an absconder after he failed to cooperate with investigators. Musharraf has been accused of threatening Bhutto and trying to influence post-murder investigations.
The court also issued permanent warrants for Musharraf’s arrest and decided to proceed against five of the accused who are in custody and two accused police officers on bail.
Meanwhile, the court deferred the matter of formally indicting the accused, including Hasnain Gul, Rafaqat Hussain, Rasheed Ahmed, Sher Zaman, Aitzaz Shah, former Rawalpindi police head Saud Aziz and former SP Khurram Shahzad, because of the unavailiability of one of the defence counsels.
The court will resume the case on September 10. Also on Saturday, accused Sher Zaman filed a post-arrest bail application in the trial court, which will be taken up on September 5.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2011.