An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Rawalpindi reserved its decision on the decade-old Benazir Bhutto murder case on Wednesday after the defence counsel concluded their arguments.
It is expected that the judgement will be announced at Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail this week, as Judge Muhammad Asghar Ali Khan earlier said he would require two days to scrutinise and compile all the records.
In today’s hearing, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) prosecutor, Chaudhry Azhar, said that former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf ─ declared “most wanted” in the case ─ could not appear before the court because he is under threat by the Al Qaeda.
Naseer Tanoli, the lawyer of Aitzaz Shah who is accused of helping and financing the attack, told the court that the FIA’s investigation into the case is full of defects.
Tanoli observed that the FIA had not asked any of the suspects about when they were arrested.
The FIA prosecutor argued that if there were discrepancies regarding the dates of the arrests of the suspects, the fault lies with the police, not the FIA.
He added that a person named Ismail, who was mentioned as an “operator” in the challan at the time of the assassination, had absconded from the court.
“The attack was carried out from outside the car [that Bhutto was riding in]. Why would we investigate those who were inside the car?” the prosecutor asked.
Police told the ATC that Ismail had tapped a phone call from Baitullah Mehsood ─ the former Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan chief who was killed in a US drone attack in August 2009 ─ who was declared “most wanted” in the murder case, along with Emad Gul, Akramullah, Abdullah and Faizullah.
During the case 68 witnesses appeared on behalf of the prosecution and recorded their testimonies. The police presented three challans before the court, wheras the FIA presented five.
The judge hearing the case was changed eight times.
In 2013, FIA’s special prosecutor in the case was killed by unknown assailants. Doctors said he had been killed with 10 bullets targeting his chest and shoulder.
Saud Aziz, who was police chief of Rawalpindi when Bhutto was assassinated in 2007, and Khurram Shahzad, a former Superintendent of Police (SP) at Rawal Town, were released on bail in 2011.
The two were accused of negligence in security arrangements which subsequently led to the assassination of the former prime minister in a gun-and-bomb attack outside Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh on Dec 27, 2007 when Musharraf was president. Benazir Bhutto was killed shortly after addressing an election campaign rally in the city.