Benazir death: Pak police officers face charges
Last Updated: Saturday, October 15, 2011, 18:29
  
Islamabad: A Pakistani anti-terror court on Satuday dismissed acquittal pleas of two top Rawalpindi police officers accused of failing to provide adequate security to the assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and destroying vital evidences after her killing.

Rejecting their pleas, judge Shahid Rafique asked the authorities to frame charges against former Rawalpindi police chief Saud Aziz, and his deputy Khurram Shahzad on October 22, raising hopes of headway in investigation into the murder, a mystery even after nearly four years.

Both have been accused of not taking proper security measures for Bhutto, who was killed in firing and suicide attack in the city of Rawalpindi in December 2007.

No group has so far claimed responsibility but then military President Pervez Musharraf had blamed Pakistani Taliban for the killing. Taliban had denied any involvement and blamed Pakistani agencies for the murder. Five people have been arrested in connection with the murder but all have denied any role.

The two former police officers were also accused of ordering the crime scene to be washed down less than two hours after the killing.

The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) dismissed the acquittal pleas from the police officers, which means they would be in the case until the court gives verdict. They are on bail.

The police officers argued that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), probing the murder, had accused them of providing inadequate security to the slain prime minister and for destroying material evidences. However, they said they were being charged of terrorism, murder, attempt to murder and being part of criminal conspiracy.

They maintained that under the law, the charge of murder and terrorism could not be levelled against them since the investigation team had not provided any evidence to prove these allegations.

A UN report into Bhutto's death report published last year in April said the decision to wash the crime scene did "irreparable damage" to the subsequent investigation. The UN focused on the actions of Aziz, who witnesses said, was "constantly talking on his mobile phone" as doctors scrambled to save Bhutto's life in a Rawalpindi hospital.

Bhutto's widower, President Asif Zardari, had once said he knew who had killed Benazir Bhutto but he has not yet disclosed the names.

The UN report also blamed the security agencies and Musharraf for failing to protect Bhutto, while accusing police and intelligence officials of hampering the investigation into her death.

The UN team said that Aziz stalled the investigation for two days after Bhutto's death, deliberately prevented a postmortem on her body, and gave the order to sanitise the crime scene just 100 minutes after Bhutto's death.

PTI


First Published: Saturday, October 15, 2011, 18:28


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