Benazir murder: Police officers challenge 17-year jail sentence in LHCSeptember 8, 2017 at 5:57 am
The two senior police officers who were sentenced to 17 years in prison for negligence and security lapses that lead to the assassination of PPP leader Benazir Bhutto in 2007 challenged the judgement against them in the Rawalpindi bench of Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday.
An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Rawalpindi had last week convicted additional inspector general Saud Aziz and senior superintendent of police (SSP) Khurram Shehzad, and fined them Rs1 million each. But five suspects allegedly linked with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were acquitted for lack of evidence.
The appeals, filed on behalf of the police officers by their lawyers, urge the high court to release the convicts after overturning the sentences handed to them.
The applications argue that the police officers had provided adequate security to Liaquat Bagh, the venue of the rally addressed by Bhutto.
The officers who were providing security services have been made “scapegoats”, the lawyers alleged, adding that the prosecution did not have any solid evidence against the accused.
The police officers claimed that the statements given by prosecution witnesses in the court are full of contradictions and that the trial of the case had not been conducted according to criminal laws under the Qanoon-i-Shahadat (Law of Evidence). The ATC verdict also did not consider the inquiry reports, they claimed.
The ATC issued the judgement in a rush by acquitting the five TTP suspects, the applications further alleged, adding that the two police officers “who are not even remotely linked to Benazir Bhutto’s murder” were sentenced to 17 years in prison each.
AIG Saud Aziz had been accused of removing SP Ashfaq Anwar from Liaquat Bagh, leaving Bhutto at the mercy of the attackers. He was also accused of not ordering an autopsy of her body.
SSP Khurram Shehzad was charged with washing the crime scene and destroying potential evidence that may have led investigators to the terrorists.
Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a gun and bomb attack after an election rally in Liaquat Bagh on Dec 27, 2007. The then government of Pervez Musharraf had blamed TTP chief Baitullah Mehsud for the killing but Mehsud had denied any involvement in the murder.