Musharraf declared fugitive in Bhutto's murder trial

In this photograph taken on April 20, 2013, former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf is escorted by soldiers as he arrives at an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad.
In this photograph taken on April 20, 2013, former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf is escorted by soldiers as he arrives at an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad. PHOTO: AFP

RAWALPINDI • A Pakistan anti-terrorism court has declared former military ruler Pervez Musharraf a fugitive in ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto's murder trial, ordering his property confiscated, a court official said yesterday.

Musharraf was charged with Ms Bhutto's 2007 assassination in 2013, but has been in self-imposed exile in Dubai ever since a travel ban was lifted three years later. The official said he had "absconded".

The court also acquitted five men who had been accused of being Taleban militants involved in the conspiracy to murder Ms Bhutto, the Muslim world's first female prime minister, the official said.

But it found two police officers guilty of "mishandling the crime scene", the official said, adding that they had each been sentenced to 17 years in prison and fined 500,000 rupees (S$6,600).

The verdicts are the first to be issued in the case, and come nearly 10 years after Ms Bhutto was killed in a gun and suicide bomb attack during an election rally in Rawalpindi.

Musharraf's government blamed the assassination on Pakistani Taleban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who denied any involvement. He was killed in a US drone attack in 2009.

In 2010, a UN report accused Musharraf's government of failing to give Ms Bhutto adequate protection and said her death could have been prevented.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2017, with the headline 'Musharraf declared fugitive in Bhutto's murder trial'. Print Edition | Subscribe