Rawalpindi: LHC issues notices to 7 accused in Benazir murder case
RAWALPINDI: A division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday issued notices to the seven arrested accused in the assassination case of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and sought record from the trial anti-terrorism court (ATC). The bench comprising Justice Mahmood Maqbool Bajwa and Justice Ali Baqir Najafi issued these orders after the prosecution in this case filed a criminal revision application seeking high court’s directions to the trial court to conduct daily hearing of the case that is pending for more than four and half years. The prosecution, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), told the court that the trial ATC earlier this year rejected their application for day-to-day hearing. The trial ATC had rejected their application after the defence counsel for the accused had told the court that it was not workable for them to attend the court proceedings every day.
The appellant’s special public prosecutor adopted before the court that the first investigation in this case was conducted by the Punjab Police and later in 2009 the investigation was transferred to the FIA. Two Punjab Police officers, then CPO Rawalpindi Saud Aziz and SP Rawal Town Khurram Shahzad, besides former President Pervez Musharraf were included in the list of accused.
In the assassination attack on Benazir Bhutto 23 persons lost their lives. The FIA prosecution included the names of 50 persons on the list of prosecution witnesses (PW).
The appellant agency told the court that due to slow proceedings only 14 PWs could record their statements so far. On September 8, 2012 the last date of hearing in the case, nine PWs were present in the court but their statements could not be recorded because of the absence of their lawyers.
The FIA prosecutor argued before the LHC bench that under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 the trial court is bound to carry out day-to-day hearing of important terrorism cases. He prayed to the court to direct the trial court to take up and conclude the matter speedily.