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Benazir Bhutto assassination: PPP disappointed by court’s verdict

The Pakistan People’s Party, the main opposition party, has said it plans to appeal against the verdict in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case.

world Updated: Sep 01, 2017 15:00 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pakistan People's Party,Benazir Bhutto assassination case,Pervez Musharraf
File photo from December 27, 2007 shows former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto waving to supporters during her last public rally in Rawalpindi shortly before she was assassinated. (AP)

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has expressed disappointment and shock at the verdict in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case, which was announced by an anti-terrorism court almost a decade after she was killed in a suicide attack in Rawalpindi.

The PPP said in a statement issued on Friday that it believes justice has not been done, nor seems to have been done, by the court, which sentenced two senior police officers to 17 years in prison for mishandling security for Bhutto and the investigation following her death.

The court also acquitted five suspected members of the Pakistani Taliban and declared former dictator Pervez Musharraf a proclaimed offender or fugitive. Musharraf had been charged of being culpable in the murder for not providing adequate security to Bhutto, a two-time prime minister.

The PPP statement said: “The acquittal of Taliban members against whom evidence had been provided is most surprising and raises several questions.” On its face, the verdict seems to be a triumph for militants, it added.

In a separate note, PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of Benazir Bhutto, described the verdict as disappointing. "We have waited for so long for this and we feel we have been cheated," he told reporters at Bilawal House, the party’s headquarters, on Friday.

The party also noted that while two police officers had been convicted and sentenced, the question of who had ordered them to wash the scene of the crime and destroy crucial evidence hours after Bhutto’s death had not been addressed.

“The conviction of the police officers will remain weak unless those giving orders to them were also tried and convicted,” it said.

The PPP statement also noted that prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali was assassinated just when he was preparing to oppose the bail application filed by Musharraf. This murder did not figure in the court hearings, it said.

The statement recalled the apprehension expressed by Bhutto regarding a plot to assassinate her. “It is common knowledge that she had stated Musharraf had threatened that her life would be in danger if she returned to Pakistan before the (2008) elections,” it said.

The statement concluded by saying that since the PPP was not a party to the case, the government should immediately appeal against the verdict. "The PPP will also employ legal instruments to mount its claim to become a party to the case and file an appeal against the verdict,” it added.

First Published: Sep 01, 2017 15:00 IST