FIA allowed to question Musharraf in Bhutto assassination case

FIA allowed to questionISLAMABAD: A Pakistani anti-terrorism court today permitted prosecutors to question former military ruler Pervez Musharraf and include him in the investigation into the assassination of ex-premier Benazir Bhutto in 2007.

Judge Chaudhry Habib-ur-Rehman of the Rawalpindi-based anti-terrorism court accepted a request from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to include the former military ruler in the probe into the assassination.

The request was made a day after the Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High Court cancelled Musharraf’s interim bail in the same case.

Special prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali told reporters that the FIA had made the request to include Musharraf in the probe after the cancellation of his interim bail.

“The court gave FIA’s joint investigation team permission to include Musharraf in the investigation and to arrest him,” he said.

“In view of security threats to the accused, the investigation to be done at the sub-jail,” Ali said, referring to the decision made by authorities to detain Musharraf at his farmhouse on the outskirts of Islamabad because of threats to his life.

Ali said Musharraf would be presented in the anti-terrorism court tomorrow.

The joint investigation team will decide whether to seek physical or judicial custody of Musharraf for the probe into Bhutto’s assassination, he said.

Legal experts said the FIA was completing formalities to include Musharraf in the probe and it was unlikely he would be moved from his farmhouse, which was declared a “sub-jail” last week, for the investigation. The High Court’s decision yesterday to reject Musharraf’s request to extend his interim bail over Bhutto’s assassination added to the legal woes of the ex-army chief, who is facing several serious criminal cases.

Lawyers have petitioned the Supreme Court to put him on trial for treason for imposing emergency in 2007 and he faces charges over the death of Baloch leader Akbar Bugti in a 2006 military operation.

Musharraf has been accused of failing to provide adequate security to Bhutto when she returned to Pakistan from self-exile. She was assassinated by a suicide bomber shortly after addressing an election rally in Rawalpindi in December 2007.

The 69-year-old former military ruler was arrested last week after the Islamabad High Court revoked his bail in a case related to the detention of over 60 judges during the 2007 emergency.

Musharraf returned to Pakistan last month after nearly four years of self-exile, promising to “save” the country from economic ruin and militancy.

However, he was barred from running in the May 11 general election, which will mark the first democratic transition of power in Pakistan’s history. -PTI