ISLAMABAD – The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Friday challenged the verdict of an anti-terrorism court in the Benazir Bhutto murder case, pleading capital punishment for two guilty policemen as well as the five men acquitted of all charges.
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The FIA moved the Lahore High Court (LHC) against the sentence through two separate petitions.
The first one argues that the two convicted culprits, former City Police Officer Saud Aziz and former Superintendent Police Khurram Shahzad were not punished under the terrorism charges which were part of the case.
The petition stated that the 17-year imprisonment granted to both culprits was much less than what they deserved, demanding capital punishment for them.
The second petition states that the five accused who were set free had also confessed to their involvement before a magistrate, so they also deserved rigorous sentences.
The five men were arrested within three months after the murder and they had confessed to their crime before a magistrate while weapons and other materials were also recovered from their possession, said the petition.
The counsel for the agency also said that the ATC passed the verdict in a hurry without fulfilling legal requirements and asked the LHC to overturn the ATC’s decision, issue orders to arrest the five men, and award death sentences to them as well as the two former police officers.
The LHC accepted the petition, setting a date for the hearing of the case on October 2. Assistant Attorney General Faisa Mahmood Raja will be representing the FIA in the court.
It bears mentioning that PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari had also challenged the ATC verdict of Aug 31 in LHC’s Rawalpindi bench seeking the death penalty for former President retired Gen Pervez Musharraf and the two senior police officers.
In three appeals, Zardari has challenged the acquittal of the five TTP suspects, objected to the 17-year prison term awarded to Aziz and Shehzad, and asked why the ATC judge separated the case of Gen Musharraf, when 68 witnesses, including US lobbyist Mark Siegel, had testified in the matter a couple of years ago.
According to the appeal, “retired General Pervez Musharraf, Saud Aziz and Khurram Shehzad cannot escape the gallows”.
A bench, comprising Justice Tariq Abbasi and Justice Habibullah Amir, summoned the entire record of the ATC proceedings and adjourned further hearings until Nov 27.