Pakistan

FIA seeks harsher punishment for accused in Benazir Bhutto murder case

RAWALPINDI: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Friday appealed the verdict of an anti-terrorism court in the Benazir Bhutto murder case before the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi Bench, ARY News reported.

An anti-terrorism court had acquitted five suspects and awarded imprisonment of 17 years to two police officers – Saud Aziz and Khurram Shahzad – in the December 27, 2007 assassination of the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

The FIA filed two separate appeals, challenging the acquittal of five suspects said to be associated with a banned outfit and the punishment awarded to two police officials, demanding harsher punishment for them.

It contended in the appeal that the trial court exonerated the five suspects despite the fact that there were solid evidences against them and they had given confessional statements.

The high court has been pleaded to set aside the trial court’s verdict.

On Aug 31, An anti-terrorism court (ATC) announced its verdict, acquitting the five accused while declaring Pervez Musharraf as fugitive.

The court had found Saud Aziz, who was the city police chief at the time of the assassination of Bhutto, and Khurram Shahzad, former Superintendent of Police (SP) Rawal Town in Rawalpindi, guilty of mishandling the crime scene and awarded them imprisonment of 17 years each.

The court had also imposed a penalty of Rs500,000 each on both the police officers and ruled that  in case of non-payment of the fine they will have to undergo additional imprisonment of six months.

After a decade-long trial, the ATC had handed down the verdict in the Benazir Bhutto murder case. Bhutto was assassinated on December 27, 2007, during her return from a public gathering at Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi.

Earlier, Advocate Sardar Latif Khosa of Pakistan Peoples Party had filed three appeals in the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench against the verdict of the trial court.

One of the appeals was against the court’s decision to declare former military ruler Pervaiz Musharraf as absconder.

Speaking to media, Khosa said it was decided during a party meeting with PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari in the chair to challenge the verdict in the high court.

Musharraf was a big threat to the life of the former prime minister as he had warned her against coming back to Pakistan in 2007, he said and added the military ruler knew that he couldn’t remain on the throne in the presence of Bhutto.

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