Pakistan court jails police officers for 2007 Benazir Bhutto murder

Benazir Bhutto [Photo: New York Times]

An anti-terror court in Pakistan on Thursday handed down 17-year jail term to two police officers for negligence in the 2007 murder of former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, a government prosecutor said.

The court, hearing the case inside a jail in the city of Rawalpindi, near Islamabad, due to security reasons, declared former military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, a fugitive, prosecutor Khawaja Imtiaz said.

The judge acquitted five culprits, who have been in jail for almost a decade for facilitating the murder and subsequent suicide bombing, for lack of evidence against them, Imtiaz added.

The men allegedly belong to the Pakistani Taliban and have been on trial for over nine years.

Pakistan’s two-time former premier Bhutto was killed in a gun-and-bomb attack on December 27, 2007, in the garrison city of Rawalpindi as she came out of an election rally.

Bhutto’s murder came just two months after she returned to Pakistan from years of self-imposed exile following a power-sharing deal with the then military ruler Musharraf.

But after her return, she realised that Musharraf’s political standing was eroding and a political deal with a falling figure would not benefit her, her aides claimed.

The court said in its Thursday decision that the officers – Rawalpindi police chief at the time, Saud Aziz, and his deputy, Khurram Shahzad – altered Bhutto’s security plan the moment she stepped out of the rally.

They were also charged on another count of destroying forensic evidence by ordering the immediate washing of the crime scene.



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