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Musharraf to be made part of Benazir probe

ISLAMABAD: An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Rawalpindi yesterday ordered former President Pervez Musharraf to be made part of the investigation into former Premier Benazir Bhutto assassination case.
It was the first time that the former military ruler appeared before the anti-terrorist court over Bhutto’s murder.
During the hearing, the court granted him the permission to meet his lawyers and also allowed him a 15-minute meeting with his lawyers inside the court premises.
Further, the court admitted the former president’s request regarding unfreezing of his assets and bank accounts for hearing. It also issued a notice to the FIA in this regard.
Musharraf also objected to being declared wanted by the authorities and the ATC decided to discuss the matter in the next hearing. Musharraf argued that since he had surrendered, he should not be declared “wanted.”
Later in the day, Pakistani police say they have defused a car bomb near the house of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
Islamabad police chief Bani Amin says the explosive-laden vehicle was found parked about 150 meters from the main gate of Musharraf’s house on the capital’s outskirts.
Meanwhile‚ counsel for Pervez Musharraf Ibrahim Satti advocate has said that putting the name of his client on the ECL is the violation of fundamental rights.
He said that his client’s mother is ill in Dubai and he wants to go abroad.
Justice Khilji Arif Hussain said if Musharraf wants to proceed abroad he should file an application and a decision will be made in this regard.
The court also directed Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to complete the investigation process and present the challan on this count before it till May, 3.
Pervez Musharraf has been granted bail till April, 24 in this case. During the previous hearing, ATC Rawalpindi had summoned Pervez Musharraf and other co-accused in Benazir killing case. Court had already issued final arrest warrant of former president in this case.
On March, 29, Sindh High Court (SHC) had extended preventive bail in respect of Pervez Musharraf in 3 cases including Benazir assassination case and imposed ban on his leaving the country without permission.
Musharraf is facing the charges of not providing desired security to Benazir Bhutto, conspiring to kill Nawab Akbar Bugti, proclaiming emergency in the country on Nov., 3, 2007 and placing 60 judges of superior judiciary including Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry under house arrest following the slapping of emergency order.
Earlier, Musharraf was driven to the court in Rawalpindi from his plush villa on the edge of Islamabad where he is serving a two-week arrest order.
Musharraf is accused of conspiracy to murder Bhutto, who died in a gun and suicide attack in December 2007. It is one of a barrage of legal cases he is fighting in the courts since returning home last month after four years in self-imposed exile.
Despite a heavy police and paramilitary presence, scuffles broke out between lawyers and Musharraf supporters, who threw stones and beat each other with sticks outside the court building.
About 150 lawyers shouted in protest against the former president, while two dozen supporters chanted “Long live Musharraf!” “Today it was routine hearing of Benazir murder case and General Musharraf appeared for the first time in this case,” his lawyer Salman Safdar.
Musharraf spent around 15 minutes in court and then another 15 minutes with his lawyer, before being driven back to his Chak Shahzad residence on the outskirts of Islamabad, which has been declared as a sub-jail.
The court while adjourning the next hearing of the case until May 3, also ordered for Musharraf to be made part of investigations.