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Monday, 25 January 2021

Arrest warrant for Musharraf over Bhutto assassination

Pakistan's ex-president Perves Musharraf has been issued an arrest warrant in the assassination of former prime minister and prominent leader Benazir Bhutto

AFP , Saturday 12 Feb 2011
Musharraf
Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf 3 September 2010. (Reuters)
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A Pakistani anti-terrorism court on Saturday issued an arrest warrant for former President Pervez Musharraf over the assassination of ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto, a public prosecutor said.

"Judge Rana Nisar Ahmad has issued non-bailable warrant for former President Pervez Musharraf and directed him to appear before the court on February 19," Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali told AFP.

He said that "a joint investigation team that had been formed to probe the assassination said in its report Musharraf had involvement in the case and was equally responsible."

"The report said it was a broad conspiracy involving Pervez Musharraf, two police officials and terrorists," Ali said after the closed-door hearing that took place in Rawalpindi's Adiala prison.

Musharraf will not comply with a warrant for his arrest issued by a court in Pakistan over the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, his spokesman in London said Saturday.

Musharraf, who was president when Bhutto was killed in 2007, is in self-imposed exile in London and is unlikely to return to Pakistan.

Asked what would happen if Musharraf did not appear in the court on the next date of the hearing, the prosecutor said: "We will see when the time comes."

In December, police arrested two senior police officers, Saud Aziz and Khurram Shahzad, for alleged dereliction of duty over the assassination of Bhutto after a court issued their arrest warrants.

Aziz, who was city police chief at the time of the killing, and Shahzad, another senior policeman in Rawalpindi, had been arrested for their "failure" to protect Bhutto.

Bhutto was killed in a gun and suicide attack after addressing an election campaign rally in the garrison city, near the capital Islamabad, on 27 December  2007.
Bhutto, who served two terms as prime minister, returned from exile two months before she was assassinated to stand for election.

Her widower, Asif Ali Zardari, led her Pakistan People's Party to election victory in February 2008 and is now president.

In April, a UN panel accused the government of failing to provide Bhutto with adequate protection and said investigations were hampered by intelligence agencies and other officials who impeded "an unfettered search for the truth".

Former military leader Musharraf has lived in London since he was replaced by the elected Zardari.

At the time of Bhutto's death, Musharraf's government blamed the assassination on Pakistan's Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who denied any involvement.

Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack in August 2009, one of the most high-profile casualties of the covert American campaign targeting Al-Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan's lawless tribal belt on the Afghan border.

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