Pakistan investigators accuse Musharraf in Bhutto assassination

[JURIST] The Federal Investigation Agency of Pakistan [official website] on Monday named former president Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] as an accused in the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive]. Musharraf's name was included on an interim criminal charge-sheet [BBC report] after investigations revealed that he appointed and allegedly gave orders to the police officers accused of failing to protect Bhutto on the day she was assassinated. Specifically, the prosecution document alleges that Musharraf ordered the officers to remove a security detail for Bhutto prior to her departure and that he later ordered the same officers to hose down the scene of the assassination. In December, a Pakistani Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) issued warrants [JURIST report] for the arrest of Syed Saud Aziz and Khurram Shahzad, the two accused of carrying out Musharraf's orders. Information gathered during questioning of these officers influenced the decision to include Musharraf's name on the charge-sheet, which does not act as a formal indictment.

In January, the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was assassinated [JURIST report] by one of his own security guards, apparently due to his opposition to Pakistan's blasphemy law [text; JURIST news archive]. Taseer, a senior member of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) [official website], was shot while getting into his car at Islamabad's Kohsar Market and died later at a hospital. Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the guard immediately surrendered to police and confessed to shooting Taseer because he had spoken against the blasphemy law. This was the most high-profile assassination since that of Bhutto in 2007 and again involved issues of security. The Pakistani government and police forces have been criticized for their part in Bhutto's assassination. In April 2010, an independent UN commission formed to investigate the assassination, issued a report holding the Pakistani government and police forces responsible [JURIST report] for failing to provide adequate security. The report also accused the government of failing to launch a proper investigation into the assassination.

 

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