Benazir death: Pak police officers face charges

A Pakistani anti-terror court dismissed acquittal pleas of two top police officers accused of failing to provide adequate security to ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

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.


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