Share This Page

Musharraf named main suspect in Bhutto's slaying

| Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 9:30 p.m.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Investigators on Tuesday named former military dictator Pervez Musharraf the prime suspect in the December 2007 assassination of ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, raising the tally of capital charges leveled against the once all-powerful army chief during the last week to four.

The Federal Investigation Agency, Pakistan's national police force, named Musharraf in a document seeking his indictment by the court hearing the Bhutto case in Rawalpindi, a city adjacent to Islamabad that houses the army headquarters.

Musharraf ruled Pakistan from 1999 to 2008 after leading an October 1999 coup d'etat against Nawaz Sharif, who was then in his second term as prime minister and is now back in the office after his party won May elections.

The Federal Investigation Agency gave little indication of what evidence would be submitted against Musharraf, but it said it included sworn statements from two Bhutto associates, Briton Victoria Schofield and American Mark Siegel. Both have previously said Bhutto had told them that if she were assassinated when she returned to Pakistan after a decade in exile, Musharraf should be held responsible.

Bhutto and Schofield attended Oxford University in England together in the 1970s and were close friends. Siegel was her longtime Washington lobbyist.

The FIA move occurred a day after Sharif announced to Parliament that his administration would prosecute Musharraf for high treason for twice abrogating Pakistan's democratic constitution — first, when he led the 1999 coup and then, in November 2007, when he declared a state of emergency to facilitate the sacking of the rebellious Supreme Court chief justice, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry.

The two counts of high treason both carry the death penalty if he is convicted.

The court has given the attorney general's office until Thursday to specify its planned method of prosecution, but the constitution specifies that treason charges must be heard by a specially formed tribunal of three Supreme Court judges.

Musharraf was formally arrested last week for the 2006 killing of Akbar Bugti, a former chief minister of western Baluchistan province who rebelled against Musharraf's rule in 2004, starting an insurgency that continues to rage.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.