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Benazir Murder Case: ATC orders Musharraf's inclusion

24 April, 2013

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RAWALPINDI: Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) Rawalpindi has ordered inclusion of former president Pervez Musharraf in the investigation into Benazir Bhutto assassination case.

Musharraf appeared before the court in relation to the case and made three requests, including unfreezing of his assets and bank accounts.

During the hearing, the court granted him the permission to meet his lawyers and also allowed him a 15-minute meeting with his lawyers inside the court premises. Further, the court admitted for hearing the former president's request regarding unfreezing of his assets and bank accounts. It also issued a notice to the FIA in this regard.

Musharraf also objected to being declared wanted by the authorities, and the ATC decided to discuss the matter in the next hearing. Musharraf argued that since he had surrendered, he should not be declared "wanted."

Meanwhile, counsel for Pervez Musharraf, Advocate Ibrahim Satti said that putting the name of his client on the ECL is a violation of his fundamental rights. He said that his client's mother is ill in Dubai and he wants to go abroad. Justice Khilji Arif Hussain said if Musharraf wants to proceed abroad he should file an application and a decision will be made in this regard.

The court also directed FIA to complete the investigation process and present the challan on this count before May 3. Musharraf has been granted bail till April 24 in this case.

Musharraf was driven to the court in Rawalpindi from his plush villa on the edge of Islamabad where he is serving a two-week arrest order for other charges dating back to his 1999-2008 rule. Musharraf is accused of conspiracy to murder Benazir, who died in a gun and suicide attack in December 2007. It is one of three cases he is fighting in the courts since returning home last month after four years in self-imposed exile.

His arrest and disqualification from contesting elections on May 11 have been a humiliating blow for the former ruler. Despite a heavy police and paramilitary presence, scuffles broke out between lawyers and Musharraf supporters, who threw stones and beat each other with sticks outside the court building, an AFP reporter said. About 150 lawyers shouted: "Dog, dog, Musharraf dog!" while two dozen supporters chanted "Long live Musharraf!"

"Today it was routine hearing of Benazir murder case and General Musharraf appeared for the first time in this case," his lawyer Salman Safdar told AFP. Musharraf spent around 15 minutes in court and then another 15 minutes with his lawyer, before being driven back to his home. Nobody has been convicted or jailed for Benazir's assassination on December 27, 2007, in Rawalpindi, despite a long-running court case. In November 2011, the court indicted two police officers and five alleged Taliban militants over her assassination.

In August 2010, it ordered the confiscation of Musharraf's property and the freezing of his bank accounts in Pakistan over his failure, while in exile, to appear to answer questions related to her death. Safdar told AFP that Musharraf's team asked the court to rescind those orders, given that he was now prepared to appear in court.

Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday issued pre-admission notices to the Islamabad chief commissioner and inspector general of police (IGP) on the issue of declaration of Musharraf's farmhouse as a sub-jail, and sought a reply till April 29. A single-member bench of the IHC comprising Justice Riaz Ahmed Khan conducted the proceedings on a plea filed by Advocate Aslam Ghumman through his counsel Ashraf Gujjar seeking nullification of the notification declaring Musharraf's farmhouse as sub-jail.

Also, the IHC on Tuesday directed the interior additional secretary to submit a report by Thursday (tomorrow) detailing the disciplinary steps which have been taken so far against Islamabad Inspector General of Police Bani Amin over former president Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf's escape from the court.

End.

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