Musharraf declared absconder in Benazir Bhutto murder case

Five acquitted, two senior policemen sentenced to 17 years in jail

Islamabad: A Pakistani Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Thursday announced its verdict in the murder case of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto after almost ten years.

The verdict announced by ATC Judge Asghar Khan at Islamabad’s Adiala Jail cleared five accused in the case, sentenced two former police officials and declared former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf as an absconder.

The court also ordered seizing of all property from Pervez Musharraf.

Five suspects, including Rafaqat Hussain, Husnain Gul, Sher Zaman, Aitzaz Shah and Abdul Rashid have been acquitted of murder charges.

However two senior policemen, former DIG Saud Aziz and SP Khurram Shehzad, were awarded 17 years imprisonment for negligence in failing to prevent the killing.

The court also imposed a fine of Rs 500,000 each on both convicts. The police arrested the former DIG from the court premises.

More than 300 hearings have been held in the case, while over the course of time six judges have been changed since the trial began on February 29, 2008.

Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, an accused in the case, was the president when Bhutto was killed. His government blamed the assassination on Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who denied any involvement. He was killed in a US drone attack in 2009.

Bhutto, who was the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chief and two-time former prime minister, was killed in a suicide attack at a public gathering at Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007.

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