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Pakistani prosecutors charge ex-President Musharraf with Benazir Bhutto's murder

August 20, 2013, 9:00 UTC+3

Bhutto, twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, was assassinated in a gun and bomb attack

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ISLAMABAD, August 20 (Itar-Tass) - Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has been formally charged with the murder of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto - the first ever woman to lead the government in a Muslim country. The public prosecutor said on Tuesday that Musharraf “was charged with murder, criminal conspiracy for murder and facilitation for murder.”

According to prosecutors, the former Pakistani President did not ensure reliable protection for Bhutto who returned to her homeland, as a result of which she was killed by extremists in Islamabad’s satellite town of Rawalpindi in December 2007. Bhutto, twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, was assassinated in a gun and bomb attack after campaigning for elections that were won by her Pakistan People’s Party in February 2008.

In March 2013, Musharraf returned to Pakistan from a five-year self-imposed exile abroad to participate in the country’s parliamentary elections. However, the Pakistani justice issued a verdict on taking the former president into custody on the strength of charges of seizure of power, treason, illegal dissolution of the Supreme Court and the organization of extra-judicial executions that were brought against him in his home country. By court decision, Musharraf was placed under house arrest in his residence in a suburb of Islamabad.

Currently Musharraf stays in his residence in the suburbs of Islamabad. The court put the residence under arrest as well. Musharraf’s movements in the capital are controlled, and he isn’t allowed to leave the estate unless necessary.

How Benazir Bhutto was murdered

Pakistani justice officially declared ex-President Musharraf guilty as accessory of Bhutto’s murderers and ruled to arrest the ex-dictator and extend his term under home arrest.

The attempt on Bhutto isn’t solved yet and remains one of the most high-profile political murders in the whole history of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Benazir Bhutto was twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan – in 1988-1990 and in 1990-1993. In 1998, Bhutto was charged in corruption and in April 1999 together with her husband she was convicted to 5 years in prison. She was prohibited to engage in political life for five years. In 1999, Bhutto emigrated to Dubai and then lived for some time in London. 

January 2007, in Abu Dhabi Benazir Bhutto for the first time personally met with Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf to establish contacts. October 18, 2007, Bhutto came back to Pakistan, which became possible thanks to National Consent Decree announcing amnesty to persons who held posts in authorities from 1988 to 1999 and who were charged of corruption and abuse of authority.

In the night of October 19, 2007, on the road from the airport two explosions took place near Bhutto’s motorcade. At first, a hand grenade was thrown at the crowd of her supporters, and then a suicide bomber set off an explosive on his body. The explosion yield was 15 to 20 kg TNT. 143 people were killed and over 500 injured. Bhutto herself was not injured.

December 27, 2007, Benazir Bhutto succumbed to injuries as a result of a suicide bomber attack after a campaign rally in Ravalpindi.

Bhutto’s husband Asif Ali Zardari filed a request to conduct an independent investigation of all the circumstances of the murder in January 2008. He addressed a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asking to create a committee “for a comprehensive investigation of Benazir Bhutto’s murder.” “We hope that UN will help find the authors, facilitators and requestors of this act of violence,” the party’s representatives stated.

In the end of January, media reported with reference to Interior Ministry of Pakistan that the supposed murderer of Bhutto was a militant called Bilal that was part of a terrorist group of 5 members. This group received an order to wipe up the leader of Pakistan Peoples Party from Taliban warlord Baitulla Mehsud.

In February, personnel of Scotland Yard’s counter-terror unit taking part in the murder’s investigation reached a conclusion that Bhutto died after hitting her head against the car’s hatch as a result of concussion wave and not from a gunshot wound. Thus, Scotland Yard supported the official version of Islamabad. However, members of Bhutto’s party didn’t agree with the conclusions of British investigators and continued to insist that Benazir died from a gunshot wound in her neck after a suicide bomber shot her three times at close range, setting off the explosive on his body after that. 

May 3, 2013, as a result of an attempt died the public prosecutor of Federal Investigation Agency Choudri Zulfikar. He was heading the investigation of Bhutto’s murder.

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