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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Arrest warrant issued for former American Ally President Musharraf


An arrest warrant has been issued for Pervez Musharraf in connection
with the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto
 Photo: EPA

Arrest warrant issued for former Pakistani President Musharraf

From Reza Sayah, CNN
February 12, 2011 6:32 a.m. EST

(CNN) -- A court in Pakistan issued an arrest warrant Saturday for former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in connection with the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, a public prosecutor told CNN.

Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali said on the Anti Terrorist Court in Rawalpindi issued the warrant.
Prosecutors claim that an investigation shows Musharraf was responsible for not providing adequate protection for Bhutto and has not responded to a prosecutor's request to answer questions -- hence the court-ordered arrest warrant.
Bhutto, who spent many years in exile, was assassinated in 2007 as she campaigned against Musharraf for the presidency.
Some have accused Musharraf of being involved in the assassination, but Musharraf denies any involvement. Late last year, Pakistani authorities arrested two police officials in the case.
A United Nations panel looking into Bhutto's assassination concluded that Pakistan's military-led former government failed to adequately protect her and that intelligence agencies hindered the subsequent investigation.
The panel's scathing report in April 2010 said the suicide bombing that killed Bhutto "could have been prevented" and that police deliberately failed to pursue an effective investigation into the killings. But Musharraf's government has said Bhutto had been afforded adequate protection.
Musharraf's legal adviser told CNN that Musharraf has not appeared before the court because the accusations against him are baseless and politically motivated.
"This is political victimization against Musharraf," Muhammad Ali Saif said. "Musharraf was never contacted by investigators to get his version of the assassination."
Musharraf went into self-imposed exile in London after resigning in 2008.
Musharraf decided to start a political party last year and make a comeback. He has said he wants to return for a presidential run in 2013 because he sees suffering in Pakistan and doesn't see a political party offering a solution.
Prosecutors claim he was aware that Taliban extremists planned to kill the former prime minister but that he failed to stop her murder in Rawalpindi.
The warrant could end his plans to return to Pakistan to contest elections.
Mr Musharraf has lived in London ever since being forced from power in 2008, months after Mrs Bhutto was killed in a bomb and gun attack as she left an election rally.
On Saturday, his spokesman said he had no intention of returning to face court and that the warrant was politically motivated.
"How can the president of a country be made responsible for the non-provision of security? It's totally ridiculous, you cannot pin criminal responsibility on a president for that," said Fawad Chaudhry.
Mrs Bhutto died while travelling in an election motorcade in the city of Rawalpindi in December 2007. She had returned from exile only weeks earlier and had twice served as prime minister of Pakistan.
Pakistan has swirled with conspiracy theories ever since, and many people have rejected the official explanation that she was killed by the Pakistan Taliban.
A United Nations investigation published last year said Mr Musharraf's government did not do enough to ensure Mrs Bhutto's security and criticised steps taken by investigators after her death, including hosing down the crime scene and failing to perform an autopsy.
In December, two senior police officers, Saud Aziz and Khurram Shahzad, were arrested for alleged dereliction of duty.
On Saturday, the prosecution at the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi said the ongoing investigation depended on questioning Mr Musharraf.
They said they had repeatedly tried to contact the former president and had sent him a questionnaire which has not been returned.
Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, special prosecutor, said that the two officers told an investigation team that Musharraf himself had ordered the removal of a security detail on the day Mrs Bhutto died.
"The report said it was a broad conspiracy involving Pervez Musharraf, two police officials and terrorists," he said after the closed-door hearing that took place in Adiala prison.
Mr Musharraf was head of the army when he seized power in 1999. He now lives in self-imposed exile but has repeatedly said he plans to return to Pakistan to contest election due by 2013.

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