ATC reserves judgement on retrial in Benazir murder case
18 September, 2013
RAWALPINDI: The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Tuesday reserved its judgement regarding retrial of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto murder case after the arrest of former president Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf.
Musharraf, who was arrested by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on April 26, is on bail against two surety bonds of Rs one million each in this case and has got exemption from appearance in court due to security concerns.
FIA Public Prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar and PPP lawyer Latif Khosa requested ATC Judge Chaudhry Habibur Rehman to advance the case proceedings without further delay, saying that its retrial would be tantamount to waste of time.
Azhar said that around 23 witnesses have so far recorded their statements before the court and they could be summoned for cross-questioning again but retrial of the case would be waste of time and money and it would benefit the accused.
Khosa said the PPP is not in favour of retrial of the case, which has been lingering on for more than five years. He said that proceedings should be advanced at a faster pace for early disposal of the case.
Ilyas Siddique, the counsel for Musharraf, contended that according to law there should be retrial of the case after the arrest of Musharraf so that witnesses' statements could be recorded in the presence of all the accused.
Malik Rafiq, the counsel for former police officials – Saud Aziz and Khurram Shahzad, said it is a known practice that whenever the main accused is arrested in any case, retrial is initiated.
He held the previous government of PPP responsible for an inordinate delay in trial of the high-profile case, saying that delaying tactics were used for unidentified reasons.
On completion of arguments, Judge Chaudhry Habibur Rehman reserved the verdict over retrial of the case and adjourned the hearing until October 1.
Meanwhile, the ATC also admitted a petition filed by the Social Justice Party seeking immunity for Musharraf in the case under Article 248 of the constitution.
It was pleaded that Musharaf could not be included in investigation or declared an accused in the case as he was president at the time of Benazir Bhutto's assassination.
Admitting the plea, the ATC issued notices to counsels for all the parties concerned to appear before it on October 1.