Benazir murder case: ATC fails to charge Musharraf

Ex-president did not appear due to security threats.

Our Correspondent August 07, 2013
Accepting an application exempting Musharraf from appearing before the court, Rehman deferred hearing of the case without any proceedings. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE


Security threats came to the rescue of former president Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday, when the trial court hearing the murder case of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto failed to frame charges against him after law enforcement agencies failed to present the former ruler before the court.

The respite came when the defence counsel, Muhammad Ilyas Siddiqui presented letters written by various intelligence agencies to Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Special Judge Chaudhry Habibur Rehman, narrating possible threats to the former president’s life.

Referring to the letters, Siddiqui said that in view of the warnings his client could not be produced before the court.

Accepting an application exempting the former military ruler from appearing before the court on Tuesday, Rehman deferred hearing of the case without any proceedings.

Hearing of the Benazir Bhutto murder case was postponed till August 20, with the ATC issuing new orders for presenting Musharraf, the primary accused in the murder case.

Earlier, the trial court had fixed August 6 as the date to formally frame murder charges against the former chief of army staff and military ruler.

According to the copies of the charge sheet made available to the public, the primary accused in the high profile assassination of the country’s former premier and leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) include Pervez Musharraf, former City Police Officer (CPO) Syed Saud Aziz and former SP Rawal Town Khurram Shehzad. The two police officers have been on bail in the murder case while five other co-accused are in custody at Adyala Jail.

During the last hearing, the court had de-freezed Musharraf’s assets after setting aside a plea of the Federal Investigating Agency (FIA) to confiscate his property.

The court had also handed over copies of the charge sheet to the former president and the two former police officers, declaring that Musharraf’s inability to obey court orders could result in the trial being barred.

On Tuesday, heavy contingent of police was deployed in and around the court for security of the former president and given the high profile nature of the case media personnel thronged the courtroom to cover the proceedings.

However, the timely submission of intelligence agency letters saved the day for Musharraf, who won respite from court proceedings till after Eid.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2013.