RAWALPINDI: The Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench accepted for hearing on Thursday the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) appeals against the verdict of the anti-terrorism court in the Benazir Bhutto murder case.
On Monday, the PPP had challenged the verdict of the lower court by submitting three appeals on behalf of PPP supremo and Benazir’s widower Asif Ali Zardari.
Hearing the case on Thursday, a divsional bench of the court accepted the appeals and adjourned the hearing until November 27.
On August 31, the anti-terrorism court hearing the former prime minister’s assassination case for over nine years cleared five accused in the case, sentenced two former police officials to jail and declared former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf an absconder.
Speaking to the media outside the court after submitting their appeals on Monday, PPP’s Latif Khosa, who was also a counsel in the case, said Benazir had repeatedly stated that Musharraf was not providing her security.
He also claimed that Musharraf got Saud Aziz, one of the two police officials punished in the case, posted as the Rawalpindi city police officer to ensure his role in the assassination. He accused Aziz of ordering the removal of a security cordon around Liaquat Bagh on December 27, 2007 so Benazir could be easily killed.
Khosa explained that they have filed three appeals: one challenges the order separating Musharraf’s trial from the case, the other is against the ‘lenient’ sentences against the police officers and the last against the suspected militants exonerated in the case.
Convicted cops challenge verdict
On September 11, the LHC’s Rawalpindi bench approved for hearing appeals submitted by the two policemen convicted in the case.
Aziz and Khurram Shahzad were sentenced to 17 years each and ordered to pay a fine of Rs0.5 million each for their negligence in investigating the case properly. Shahzad was SP Rawal Town at the time of the incident.
The case was heard by LHC’s Justice Tariq Abbasi and Justice Habibullah Amir, who issued notices to the respondents and adjourned the hearing.
5 accused acquitted, 2 sentenced, Musharraf declared absconder in Benazir murder case
According to the verdict, the former policemen had been awarded 10 years in prison under Section 119 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and seven years under Section 201 of the PPC.
BB murder case
Bhutto, the PPP chief and two-time former prime minister, was assassinated in a suicide attack at an election campaign rally in Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh on December 27, 2007.
An FIR over the incident was registered on behalf of the state following which the murder trial of five suspects began in February of 2008. However, once PPP won the 2008 elections, the investigation was handed over to the FIA.
More than 300 hearings of the case were held, while over the course of time six judges were changed and seven challans submitted in the trial that began on February 29, 2008.