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Musharraf named main suspect in Bhutto's slaying

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By McClatchy Newspapers
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.

 

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