Benazir Bhutto assassination case: 2 cops jailed, Musharraf declared absconder
Two senior policemen have received 17-year prison sentences for negligence over the assassination of ex-Pakistani PM Benazir Bhutto in 2007. Former president General Pervez Musharraf, a suspect in the case, has been declared an absconder by the court and his property may be confiscated. Five men were acquitted of conspiracy to murder charges. Bhutto was killed in Rawalpindi in a gun and bomb attack.
Who was Benazir Bhutto?
Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan's Peoples Party was the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan, serving two non-consecutive terms in 1988-90 and 1993-96. In 1996, charges of corruption levelled against her led to the dismissal of her government by the President. Bhutto conceded her defeat in the 1997 parliamentary elections and went into exile in 1999. She returned in 2007 to fight the 2008 parliamentary elections.
Benazir Bhutto assassinated
In December 2007, after a political rally at Liaquat National Bagh in Rawalpindi, shots were fired at Bhutto and a suicide bomb was detonated. She sustained severe injuries and was rushed to the hospital where she was declared dead. Medical reports suggested that shrapnel and gunshot wounds killed her. However, Pakistan's Interior Ministry claimed that she fractured her skull due to the bomb's impact.
Al-Qaeda claims Bhutto's assassination
In December 2007, al-Qaeda commander Mustafa Abu al-Yazid claimed responsibility saying, "We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat the mujahideen." He further stated that Ayman al-Zawahiri ordered the killing in October 2007. However, on 30 December, MI5 sources said that factions of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence may be responsible for the assassination. The Pakistani government denied these allegations.
Bhutto barred from seeking private bodyguards
In May 2007, Bhutto asked for additional protection from private security agencies Blackwater and Armor Group; however, their visas were denied by the Pakistani government. Emails from Bhutto, from October 2007, saying she would blame Musharraf for her death if she were killed, were published after her death. She stated that despite several requests, the Musharraf government did not provide adequate security to her.
On 20 August 2013, ex-President Musharraf was indicted on three charges, for murder, conspiracy to murder, and facilitation of murder in connection with his alleged failure to provide adequate security to Bhutto - charges for which he is reportedly denying responsibility.