RAWALPINDI - A trial court on Tuesday dismissed the plea of Pakistan People’s Party to become a party in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case, but accepted a similar application filed by the heirs of Tauqeer Akram Kaira, the former slain premier’s security officer who was also killed in the December 2007 gun-and-bomb attack at Liaquat Bagh.
At the outset of Tuesday’s proceedings, advocate Sardar Latif Khosa, former Punjab governor and PPP’s secretary general, submitted to judge Chaudhry Habibur Rehman a testimony on behalf of PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to become a party in the assassination case of his mother and her security guard Tauqeer Akram Kaira.
The affidavit pleaded to the court to continue the proceedings after indicting former military ruler Pervez Musharraf instead of re-recording the statements of the witnesses and to allow the lawyer of the accused to cross examine any witness. Khosa said he would formally file an application before the court on Wednesday (today).
The prosecution and Federal Investigation Agency’s public prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar Ali endorsed Khosa's stance. Two former police officers – former city police officer Saud Aziz and former Rawal Town superintendent of police Khurram Shehzad – also did not oppose Khosa.
Muhammad Ilyas Siddiqui, the counsel for Musharraf, could not appear before the court because of his busy schedule.
Khosa told the court that Bilawal Bhutto was son of the slain premier and the legal heir to the party, so PPP should be allowed to become a party in the case and it be given access to the relevant record. He also complained about slow proceedings, and urged the court to start the case from where it was ended, when the statements of the twenty-seven witnesses were completed, after the former president’s arrest. "The case is being delayed. And the court starts the case afresh whenever a new witness comes up," Khosa said while adding starting the case anew would tantamount to wasting court's time and money.
Judge Rehman however rejected the application, ruling that as per the law a political party could not become a party in any murder case. The judge also observed that he had no objection whether the case started afresh. Later, the court adjourned the hearing till September 17.
Meanwhile, the court accepted another application filed by the heirs of Tauqeer Akram Kaira, who was also killed in the Liaquat Bagh blast, and appointed Khosa as their counsel. Khosa submitted the power of attorney to the court.
On the last hearing, Khosa had filed two applications to make PPP a party in the BB assassination case.
At the end of the court proceedings, Khosa, while talking to newsmen, said Bilawal Bhutto had assigned him a task to file an application with the court to become a party in because the Musharraf government had maintained the assassination was due to a terror act. He said Benazir Bhuttto was a high-profile personality and was the first woman premier of any Islamic country. He said becoming a party in the case would not mean that the trial would be started afresh.
He said before that they could not become a party because the PPP had been in power in the Centre. “Because now we are in the opposition no one would point fingers that the PPP was influencing the case,” he argued.
He also rebuffed the reports that former president and BB’s widower Asif Ali Zardari had barred the doctors from carrying out an autopsy, saying it was state's responsibility to ensure that postmortem was carried out whether the heirs allowed it.