May 3, 2013

PAKISTAN: Prosecutor In Benazir Bhutto Assassination Case Shot Dead >:/

France24 news
written by Staff
Friday May 3, 2013

Motorcycle gunmen shot and killed Chaudhry Zulfikar, a prosecutor investigating the 2007 assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, as Zulfikar left his home in the capital Islamabad on Friday.

Bhutto’s December, 2007 death was received with shock in Pakistan. A fierce critic of the Taliban and Islamist groups that had been patronised by elements of Pakistan’s military, Bhutto was deeply mistrusted by the security establishment. She was killed in a gun-and-suicide bomb attack by a 15-year-old boy following an election rally in the city of Rawalpindi, just weeks after she had returned to the country after years of self-imposed exile. The assassination has since become the subject of an investigation, which a 2010 report by a UN inquiry commission said should not rule out the possibility that security and military members had been involved.

Police sources said Zulfikar was shot in his car as he headed to a hearing on the case, leaving the front seats of the vehicle littered with broken glass and stained with blood.

“He was killed by unknown gunmen. Twelve bullets were fired,” said a police source.

Zulfikar was also the prosecutor investigating the 2008 attacks on India’s commercial capital, Mumbai, in which 166 people were killed. India said militants based in Pakistan were behind the three-day rampage.

Taha Saddiqui, FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Islamabad, said that Zulfikar had allegedly received death threats before his assassination.

“We’re getting reports from sources in the police that the prosecutor had been receiving threats ever since he got involved in the Benazir Bhutto murder investigation case, and he was investigating the Mumbai case. So he was on two high profile cases and investigating them,” Saddiqui said. “There are indications that he had unearthed evidence in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case and he was going to present that evidence in the court.”

Security expert Amir Rana concurred that Zulfikar was probably targeted because of his role in prosecuting militants in connection with Bhutto’s death, or other cases he was working on.

Suspicion over Musharraf’s role in Bhutto assassination

In the nearly six years since Bhutto was killed, speculation has lingered over whether she was the victim of a plot by allies of General Pervez Musharraf, the then-president, who did not want her to come to power. Zulfikar’s death comes just days after a Pakistani court put Musharraf on a 14-day judicial remand for charges of failing to provide adequate security for Bhutto before her assassination.

There are now fears, however, that Zulfikar’s murder may have an impact on the overall investigation into Bhutto’s assassination.

“[Because] the prosecutor was murdered so brutally in broad daylight, the rest of the investigators and those working on this case will have a fear of being killed also, so the investigation might be halted and there might not be any developments as we were expecting earlier,” Saddiqui reported.

Musharraf, who has always denied responsibility for Bhutto’s death, returned to Pakistan in March after nearly four years of self-imposed exile to contest the May 11 general election. But he has since been banned from politics for life.

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