Global General

Pakistan issues arrest warrant for Musharraf

Updated: 2011-02-12 15:28
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ISLAMABAD - An arrest warrant was issued on Saturday against former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in the 2007 murder case of slain leader Benazir Bhutto, prosecutors said.

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An anti-terrorism court ordered the former military president to appear in the court in the garrison city of Rawalpindi on Feb 19.

The prosecutors on Monday asked the trial court to declare Musharraf as an "absconder" as he had refused to cooperate in the probe and also named him as an "accused."

The prosecutors presented a charge sheet filed by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in the court saying Musharraf, who was president at the time of the assassination, had refused a request to cooperate in the investigation into Bhutto's death.

FIA prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar informed the court that Musharraf has been named as an "absconding accused," following the lack of cooperation by the former president.

Zulfiqar argued that further action must be taken against Musharraf if he continued to refuse to cooperate in the probe.

The anti-terrorism court is conducting the trial inside a prison of five terror suspects, including alleged members of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, who have been charged with planning and facilitating the assassination.

Benazir Bhutto was killed in a firing and suicide attack shortly after she addressed an election rally in Rawalpindi on Dec 27, 2007.

The interim charge sheet further said that former Rawalpindi police chief Saud Aziz and former Superintendent of Police Khurram Shahzad, recently arrested by the FIA on charges of negligence in providing security to Bhutto, were acting on the orders of Musharraf.

The former police officers are also accused of washing the attack site shortly after the attack and most of the evidences were removed.

The charge sheet also included a report on the forensic analysis of one of Benazir Bhutto's BlackBerry mobile phones. Earlier this month, two BlackBerry phones used by Bhutto at the time of her assassination were found by staff at her home in Karachi and handed over to the FIA.

A spokesman for Musharraf described charges against the former president as "politically motivated," saying Musharraf will face the court if he formally receives the charge sheet.

Musharraf, who has been living in self-exile in Britain since April 2009, has said that he intends to return to Pakistan before the next general election in 2013. He has also formed a new party, the All Pakistan Muslim League, with an eye to the next polls.

A UN commission which probed Bhutto's assassination had held Musharraf responsible for failing to provide adequate security to the former premier after her return to Pakistan from self-exile in October 2007.