A day after the government said that it would try former military ruler Pervez Musharraf for treason, investigators in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case charged him with conspiring to kill the two-time former prime minister.
In its report submitted with Rawalpindi’s Anti-Terrorism Court-I, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) held the former dictator responsible for the breach in the security of Benazir Bhutto that resulted in her assassination outside Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh in December 2007.
According to the report, which was submitted by the head of FIA’s joint investigation team, Deputy Director Khalid Rasool, Musharraf allegedly wanted to kill the chairperson of Pakistan Peoples Party to secure his rule.
Sources told The Express Tribune that the FIA’s final challan (charge-sheet) was based on a statement of American journalist Mark Siegel, who was a close friend of the slain politician.
In an email sent to Siegel, Benazir had said that four people in the-then government – Pervez Musharraf, Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Intelligence Bureau’s director general Ijaz Shah and an officer of another intelligence agency – would be responsible if she was murdered, sources added.
ATC Special Judge Chaudhry Habibur Rehman summoned the former president to appear before the court on July 2.
Meanwhile, the trial court also accepted the plea of barrister Salman Safdar of granting an exemption to Musharraf from appearing before the court in person for security reasons. However, the ATC reserved its verdict on a plea of the accused seeking permanent exemption from appearing in person.
The city police officer also submitted his reply before the court regarding security concerns of FIA Special Public Prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar Ali, who is now the main prosecutor in the case after the murder of former special public prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali.
He said the police could only provide security cover to Azhar Ali from the Islamabad airport to the ATC and not round the clock.
“The prosecution is adamant to proceed against Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf but this exercise will only result in his acquittal pure and simple,” Safdar told The Express Tribune. Of the 141 witnesses, only Siegal’s testimony is being used to justify the prosecution, whereas the journalist has refused to testify before the court in person.
He called the allegations in the charge-sheet “politically motivated which do not link Musharraf with Benazir’s assassination”.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2013.
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