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Pakistan court likely to give verdict in Benazir Bhutto killing case today

LiveMint logoLiveMint 31-08-2017 Sajjad Hussain

Islamabad: An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan may on Thursday deliver its verdict in a decade-old-case involving the gruesome assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Former two-time premier Bhutto was killed in a gun and bombing attack in Rawalpindi on 27 December 2007 when she came out of park after addressing an election rally.

The case was registered soon after the assassination and the trial went through many ups and down until concluded on Wednesday in Rawalpindi.

The anti-terrorism court will give its judgment on five militants from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terror group and two senior police officers.

ATC judge Asghar Ali Khan who heard the case in city’s Adiala Jail reserved the judgment after conducting day-to-day hearing going on since Monday.

The trial of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf who was the president when Bhutto was killed and who has been accused will be held separately on his return to Pakistan.

The five suspects Rafaqat Hussain, Husnain Gul, Sher Zaman, Aitzaz Shah and Abdul Rashid were arrested soon after the assassination and have been in jail.

Then Rawalpindi police chief Saud Aziz and SSP Kurrum Shehzad are also among the accused and their fate will be decided in the case. Both were arrested initially but released on bail in 2011. All accused will be present at the time of announcement of trial.

The main trial five suspects started in January 2008, while Musharraf, Aziz and Shahezad were implicated in 2009 after fresh probe by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

Eight different judges heard the case during this period who were changed due to different reasons.

Initially TTP chief Baitullah Mehsud was blamed for murder and Musharraf’s government issued a taped conversation of Mehsud with a certain operator in which he was congratulating the operator for the murder.

But FIA chief prosecutor Mohammad Azhar Chaudhry in his concluding arguments disowned the evidence of audio record and transcript of telephonic conversation.

He termed it cooked up story Musharraf to mislead the investigators and to save himself. PTI

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