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ATC reissues Musharraf’s arrest warrant

February 19, 2011

Former President Pervez Musharraf. — File Photo

RAWALPINDI: An anti-terrorist court Saturday reissued an arrest warrant for former president Pervez Musharraf over the assassination of ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto, a prosecutor said.

Musharraf, who was president when Bhutto was killed in December 2007 in a gun and suicide bomb attack, is in self-imposed exile in London and his spokesman has said he will not be going back to Pakistan for any court hearing.

“Last week the court had issued the arrest warrant but it could not be served at Musharraf's residence in Islamabad and we were told that he does not live there,” special prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali told AFP.

“Today the court reissued the warrants and adjourned the hearing till March 5.”

The non-bailable warrant was issued by Anti-Terrorist Court judge Rana Nisar Ahmad during a hearing of the case in Rawalpindi's Adiyala prison.

“We do not have his address, but we came to know through media and officials who went to serve the warrant that he is in UK. We will get his address and serve the notice on it,” Zulfiqar Ali added.

The former president and military ruler is alleged to have been part of a “broad conspiracy” to have his political rival killed before elections, though the exact nature of the charges against him is not clear.

Benazir Bhutto was killed after addressing an election campaign rally in Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad, on December 27, 2007.

Her widower, Asif Ali Zardari, led her Pakistan People's Party to election victory in February 2008 and is now president.

In April, a UN panel accused the government of failing to provide Benazir Bhutto with adequate protection and said investigations were hampered by intelligence agencies and other officials who impeded “an unfettered search for the truth”.

Former military leader Musharraf has lived in London since he was replaced by the elected Zardari.

At the time of Benazir Bhutto’s death, Musharraf's government blamed the assassination on Pakistan's Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who denied any involvement.

Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack in August 2009, one of the most high-profile casualties of the covert American campaign targeting al Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan's tribal belt.