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20 Aug, 2013 04:15

Pakistan ex-President Musharraf charged with Benazir Bhutto's murder

Pakistan ex-President Musharraf charged with Benazir Bhutto's murder

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has been charged with the murder of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007. The ex-military leader has denied all the charges against him.

"He was charged with murder, criminal conspiracy for murder and facilitation for murder," Public Prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar told AFP at the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi hearing the case.

Then-opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was killed in December 2007 during a political rally in the city of Rawalpindi by a suicide bomber. The judge ruled that Musharraf was complicit in her murder because he had not provided adequate security during the rally.  

Supporters of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) pay homage to slain former premier Benazir Bhutto at Bilawal House in Lahore, 30 December 2007 (AFP Photo / Arif Ali)

The assassination threw nuclear-armed Pakistan into shock, sparking a wave of violence across the nation.

General Musharraf, who ruled Pakistan from 1999-2008, refrained from making any comments following his indictment. The case has been adjourned until August 27.  

The former leader also faces possible charges for the death of separatist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti and the suspension of the Pakistani constitution towards the end of his rule.

The hearing was held in a special anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi close to the capital, Islamabad. Security was stepped up for the hearing, with hundreds of police deployed along the road leading to the courthouse and on the rooftops after Musharraf’s lawyers warned of threats to the former leader’s life.

Pervez Musharraf seized power in a 1999 military coup, ousting the then Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif. He maintained power until 2008 when he stepped down to avoid impeachment charges before fleeing to London and Dubai where he remained in exile for more than 4 years.

He returned to Pakistan in March of this year to participate in the elections from which he was subsequently disqualified by High Court judges.

Musharraf’s government alleged that former Pakistani leader Baitullah Mehsud orchestrated Bhutto’s murder after she pledged to aid the US in eliminating the terrorist group.

 Supporters of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto follow the ambulance carrying her coffin after her body was released from the hospital in Rawalpindi, 27 December 2007 (AFP Photo / Farooq Naeem)