Pakistani court indicts five over Bhutto assassination

November 22nd, 2008 - 9:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Benazir BhuttoIslamabad, Nov 22 (DPA) An anti-terrorism court Saturday formally indicted five people in connection with the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, media reports said.Bhutto was murdered in a gun-suicide attack in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, which is adjacent to the capital Islamabad, during an election rally Dec 27 last year.

The authorities accused Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud in the restive tribal district of South Waziristan of masterminding the slaying of the former head of the now ruling Pakistan People’s Party.

The commander, who has links with Al Qaeda and leads a 5,000-strong militia, has denied the allegations.

Five other suspects were arrested associated with the crime in the following months and indicted on Saturday by the Special Court Judge, Chaudhry Habibur Rahman, on various charges.

Three accused - named as Aitzaz Shah, Sher Zaman and Abdul Rashid - were accused of having prior information relating to the terrorism activity of which they did not inform the police and other relevant authorities, the Geo news channel said.

The two others - Hasnain Gul and Rafaqat Hussain - were accused of helping in the conspiracy that led to the murder of Bhutto and helping the suicide bombers involved in the attack.

All the five accused rejected the charges. The court adjourned the case until Nov 29.

Police have claimed Hussain and Gul confessed they were seeking revenge for the death of a comrade killed in a July 2007 commando assault on Islamabad’s Red Mosque, where radical Islamists were smoked out by security forces following a week’s fighting.

According to the Pakistani authorities, over 100 people, including a dozen soldiers were killed in the operation. But Islamist claim over 3,000, including women and children, studying at the Islamic seminary adjacent to the mosque died.

The suspects were outraged by US support for Bhutto, who had vowed to intensify the fight against militants in tribal areas, a senior police official Abdul Majeed told reporters in February.

Pakistan also has asked UN to carry out an international inquiry into the terrorist action, which the family of Bhutto and her party suspected might have carried out by some elements in Pakistan’s intelligence agencies sympathizing Taliban.

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