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LHC to hear govt’s appeal in Benazir Bhutto murder case tomorrow

RAWALPINDI: Lahore High Court will on Monday will hear the appeal filed by the federal government challenging the acquittal five suspects in the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Assistant Attorney General Faisal Raja had on Friday filed the appeal, challenging the verdict as too lenient, and demanding capital punishment for the suspects. The Rawalpindi bench of the LHC has formed a two-member bench comprising Justice Tariq Abbasi and Justice Habibullah Amir to hear the appeal.

An anti-terrorism court had acquitted five suspects and awarded seventeen years imprisonment  to two police officers – Saud Aziz and Khurram Shahzad – in the assassination of Bhutto.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had 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, who allegedly belonged to a banned outfit, despite solid evidences against them and confessional statements.

On Aug 31, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) announced its verdict, acquitting the five accused while declaring former preident Pervez Musharraf an absconder.

The court found Rawalpindi police chief Saud Aziz and , former Superintendent Police Rawal Town Khurram Shahzad guilty of mishandling the crime scene and awarded seventeen years imprisonment.

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.

The ATC had handed down the verdict after nearly a decade since Bhutto was assassinated on December 27, 2007 after addressing a public gathering at Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi.



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