March 19, 2011

Pervaiz Musharraf in Court on March 26

During a hearing of the Benazir Bhutto murder case on Saturday, the Anti-Terrorist Court (ATC) in Rawalpindi directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to produce former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in court during the case’s hearing on March 26, DawnNews reported.

ATC-III Special Judge Rana Nisar Ahmed heard the case on Saturday.

The warrant has been sent to Britain’s Home Office for compliance, prosecution lawyer Azhar Chaudhry said, citing a letter sent Saturday from Pakistan’s High Commission in London to the court.

“The High Commission hopes to get a reply from the British Home Office within a week,” he told AFP.

The court — which met in Adiyala prison, in Rawalpindi — adjourned proceedings until March 26 at the request of the prosecution.

On March 9, the government had sent to British authorities the arrest warrant of former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case.

According to sources in the interior ministry, the warrant was sent by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to Pakistan’s High Commission in London which forwarded it to the UK foreign affairs department.

Musharraf, who was president when Benazir was killed in December 2007 in a gun and suicide bomb attack, is in self-imposed exile in London and his spokesman has repeatedly said he will not be going back to Pakistan for any court hearing.

The former president and military ruler is alleged to have been part of a “broad conspiracy” to have his political rival killed before elections, though the exact nature of the charges against him is not clear.

Benazir Bhutto was killed after addressing an election campaign rally in Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad, on December 27, 2007.

Her widower, Asif Ali Zardari, led her Pakistan People’s Party to election victory in February 2008 and is now president.

In April, a UN panel accused the government of failing to provide Benazir Bhutto with adequate protection and said investigations were hampered by intelligence agencies and other officials who impeded “an unfettered search for the truth”.

Former military leader Musharraf has lived in London since he was replaced by the elected Zardari.

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