No case against Musharraf on basis of UN report: Experts
Last Updated: Monday, April 19, 2010, 11:40
  
Lahore: Legal proceedings against former military ruler Pervez Musharraf cannot be initiated merely on the basis of a UN panel's report holding him responsible for lapses that led to the assassination of ex-premier Benazir Bhutto, Pakistani legal experts have said.

The experts are of the view that the UN's commission's report has neither absolved anyone nor held anyone criminally responsible for the killing of Bhutto, the former chairperson of the ruling Pakistan People's Party.

The report is based on interviews and not on a criminal investigation, the experts said. The report also did not specifically fix responsibility on anyone as this was not the mandate of the UN panel, they added.

The PPP's top leadership has asked Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to take "appropriate legal actions" against all persons, including Musharraf, who have been named in the UN panel's report as being responsible for the assassination of Bhutto.

Law Minister Babar Awan, a close aide of President Asif Ali Zardari, has even said that steps will be taken to bring Musharraf back to Pakistan.

The former president left the country a year ago and is currently living in self-exile in Britain. However, leading legal expert Ahmer Bilal Sufi said the government "cannot even request the Interpol to issue red corner notices for Musharraf" on the basis of the UN panel's report as no criminal case has been registered against the former military ruler in Pakistan or elsewhere.

"No legal action can be initiated even against the seven officials who were made Officers on Special Duty (and removed from their current posts) yesterday in the light of the findings of the UN report," Sufi said.

He was referring to action taken by authorities against five senior police officials and one civil official who were involved in the investigation of Bhutto's assassination in December 2007.

"The UN commission's report has not fixed criminal responsibility. Inaction on the part of Musharraf's government in providing security to Bhutto is not tantamount to committing a criminal offence," Sufi said.

Sufi, an expert on international laws, further said there is a need to initiate a criminal investigation in order to try Musharraf or other persons.

"However, the report has benefited President Zardari and the PPP-led government to put pressure on the Army," he said. The report will now remain an issue with the UN.

"The UN commission has been disbanded and its report been submitted to the UN Security Council," Sufi added.

PPP spokesperson Fauzia Wahab defended her government's decision to take legal action against those responsible for Bhutto's assassination.

"Though it will legally be an uphill task to initiate proceedings against those named in the UN report as being responsible for Bhutto's death, we will certainly undertake a criminal investigation," she said.

"Though some say that the government is not in a position to take legal action against Musharraf and others, I want to make it clear that the government is sending out a clear message that it is going after the murderers of Benazir Bhutto," Wahab added.

PTI


First Published: Monday, April 19, 2010, 11:40


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