Musharraf named accused in Benazir Bhutto's assassination

Musharraf named accused in Benazir Bhutto's assassination

Pakistani prosecutors today asked a trial court to declare former president Pervez Musharraf as an "absconder" in the 2007 assassination case of former premier Benazir Bhutto, saying he had refused to cooperate in the probe and also named him as an "accused".

An interim challan or chargesheet filed by the Federal Investigation Agency in an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi said Musharraf, who was President at the time of the assassination, had refused a request to cooperate in the investigation into Bhutto's death.

Following the lack of cooperation by Musharraf, he was named as an "absconding accused", FIA prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar told the court. Zulfiqar indicated that further action could be taken against Musharraf if he continued to refuse to cooperate in the probe, TV news channels reported.

The anti-terrorism court is conducting the trial of five terror suspects, including alleged members of the Tehrik-e- Taliban Pakistan, who have been charged with planning and facilitating the assassination.

Bhutto was killed by a suicide bomber shortly after she addressed an election rally in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007. The interim chargesheet further said that former Rawalpindi Police chief Saud Aziz and former Superintendent of Police Khurram Shahzad – recently arrested by the FIA on charges of negligence in providing security to Bhutto – were acting on the orders of Musharraf.

The chargesheet also included a report on the forensic analysis of one of Benazir Bhutto’s BlackBerry mobile phones. Two BlackBerry phones used by Bhutto at the time of her assassination were recently found by staff at her home in Karachi and handed over to the FIA.

The FIA's charge against Musharraf is the latest in a long list of legal and criminal cases against the former military ruler, who resigned in August 2008, and it could cause problems for his planned return to Pakistani politics.

Musharraf, who has been living in self-exile in Britain since April 2009, has said that he intends to return to Pakistan before the next general election in 2013. He has also formed a new party, the All Pakistan Muslim League, with an eye to the next polls.

A UN Commission which probed Bhutto's assassination had held Musharraf responsible for failing to provide adequate security to the former premier after her return to Pakistan from self-exile in October 2007.

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