Benazir Bhutto murder case: Pakistan court declares Pervez Musharraf fugitive

Benazir Bhutto on the day of her assassination in Rawalpindi

A Pakistani court Thursday branded former military ruler Pervez Musharraf a fugitive in ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto's murder trial, but acquitted five men accused of involvement in the 2007 assassination.

Mrs. Bhutto, 53, was killed on December 27, 2007 when a gunman and a suicide bomber attacked her entourage at an election rally in Liaquat National Bagh, a park in Rawalpindi.

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

Meanwhile, former CPO Saud Aziz and SP Khurram Shahzad have been sentenced to 17-year prison respectively. They were also ordered to pay a fine of Rs. 0.5 million each.

His property in Pakistan is also to be seized, the court ordered.

It may be recalled that Benazir Bhutto was the chief of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and she had also served as the prime minister of Pakistan for two terms.

Aziz, the then DIG, was found guilty of deliberately transferring the superintendent of police Ashfaq Anwar from Bhutto's rally to Sadiqabad on the day when she was assassinated.

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ATC judge Asghar Khan, had on Wednesday, reserved his verdict in the case after recording closing arguments by the prosecutor, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), and counsels for the accused.

Prior to her death, Bhutto said a sinister cabal of intelligence officers and presidential aides were plotting to kill her, and that Musharraf should be blamed if anything were to happen to her. PPP has always maintained that line.

Both police officers - who were present in the court, have been arrested from Adiala Jail.

Lawyers said a total of 68 witnesses of the list of 121 recorded statements.

Deputy Inspector General Aziz was accused of not conducting an autopsy on the body, although he claimed he was told not to carry one out by Ms. Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, who later became prime minister.

The truth is that Bhutto was targeted for deviating from United States policy, said Khalid, adding that there were no explosives in the suicide jacket that the suspects had submitted for DNA testing. He added that when the investigation was handed over to the FIA, the vehicle was recovered from Zardari House in Islamabad. "Why would we investigate those who were inside the auto?" the prosecutor asked.

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