Rawalpindi: ATC formally indicts Benazir murder suspects
RAWALPINDI: Five accused arrested for their alleged role in the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto pleaded not guilty here on Saturday when an anti–terrorism court formally indicted them for assassinating and abetting the murder of PPP chairperson. ATC-I Special Judge Chaudhry Habibur Rehman, who had been conducting the trial in Adiala jail, formally indicted the accused Aitzaz Shah, Sher Zaman, Abdul Rasheed, Rafaqat Hussain and Hasnain Gul for killing, hatching criminal conspiracy to kill, abetting the perpetrators, using illegal explosive material and spreading terrorism on December 27 last year when 22 people, including the former PM, were killed and 65 others were injured in a gun and bomb attack in Liaqat Bagh.
The accused however pleaded not guilty and said they would face the trial despite the fact that they had already confessed before a judicial magistrate for having the knowledge of a plot to kill Benazir Bhutto and for helping the suicide bomber. The court will now summon the prosecution witnesses on November 29 to record their statements.
On the other hand, Nasir Ahmed Tanoli, the accuseds lawyer, told Dawn it was unlawful and beyond his understating to indict the arrested men for killing and using the explosives as the investigators had only charged them with criminal conspiracy, abetment, concealing the plot and terrorism in the charge sheet. He said he would move the ATC against the illegality as the accused could be indicted for the charges levelled against them by the City Police.
He said the trial of Aitzaz Shah will be held separately as he had been declared as a juvenile offender after a medical examination established he was under 18.
The court separately indicted two of the accused, Rafaqat and Hasnain, for providing lodgings and facilitating the suicide bombers who struck first at R. A. Bazzar in September last year and the second at the gate of the Golf Club in October 2008. The accused also pleaded not guilty in these cases.
In another case, the court indicted five accused, Said Arab, Tehseenullah, Gul Roze, Mohammad Shafique and Abdul Rasheed for firing four rockets at Kamra Aeronautical Complex in Attock in January this year. The accused denied the charges levelled against them.