Musharraf in court in Benazir murder case

ISLAMABAD — An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Rawalpindi on Tuesday asked former president Gen. (retd) Pervez Musharraf to cooperate with the investigators in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case.

By Afzal Khan

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Published: Wed 24 Apr 2013, 9:33 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 3:08 PM

The court granted former Musharraf’s request to meet his lawyers and adjourned hearing till May 3.

Musharraf appeared before the court in relation to the Benazir murder case and made three requests including the request to unfreeze his assets and bank accounts. The court issued a notice to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in this regard.

Musharraf also objected to being declared proclaimed offender after having surrendered. The ATC decided to take up the matter in the next hearing.

A supporter of Musharraf scuffles with a lawyer outside the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi on Tuesday. — AP

Musharraf is accused of conspiracy to murder Benazir, who died in a gun and suicide attack in December 2007. It is one of three cases he is fighting in the courts since returning home last month after four years in self-imposed exile.

Despite a heavy police and paramilitary presence, scuffles broke out between lawyers and Musharraf’s supporters, who threw stones and beat each other with sticks outside the court building. About 150 lawyers shouted: anti-Musharraf slogans while two dozen supporters chanted ‘Long live Musharraf!’ Police intervened later to disengage them.

“Today it was routine hearing of Benazir murder case and General Musharraf appeared for the first time in this case,” his lawyer Salman Safdar said.

Musharraf spent around 15 minutes in court and then another 15 minutes with his lawyer, before being driven back to his home.

Nobody has been convicted or jailed for Benazir’s assassination on December 27, 2007, in Rawalpindi, despite a long-running court case.

In November 2011, the court indicted two police officers and five alleged Taleban militants over her assassination.

In August 2010, it ordered the confiscation of Musharraf’s property and the freezing of his bank accounts in Pakistan over his failure, while in exile, to appear to answer questions related to her death.

Safdar said that Musharraf’s team asked the court to rescind those orders, given that he was now prepared to appear in court, complained that lawyers had been barred from meeting him and ordered police to investigate.

Musharraf’s government blamed Benazir’s killing on Taleban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who denied any involvement and who was killed in a US drone attack in August 2009.

In 2010 a UN report said Benazir’s death could have been prevented and accused Musharraf’s government of failing to give her adequate protection.

Benazir’s son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who is chairman of the outgoing Pakistan People’s Party, has accused Musharraf of her murder.

(With inputs from AFP)

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