Supreme Court of Pakistan. — Photo by AP

ISLAMABAD: An 11-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, on Monday heard the presidential reference on revisiting the murder trial of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, DawnNews reported.

During the hearing, Justice (rtd.) Tariq Mehmood requested the court to excuse him from providing assistance on the reference. The court accepted the request.

Meanwhile, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan said that Ahmed Raza Kasuri had also objected to his assisting the court over the reference but that he would not request dissociation from the case.

Moreover, Azizullah, a son of Justice Anwarul Haq, has written to the apex court to make him a party in the case.

Subsequently, the reference’s hearing was adjourned until Jan 3.

Earlier on Saturday, Ahmed Raza Kasuri had submitted a reply opposing the case's reopening and said that the president was an “interested party”.

Kasuri’s complaint had implicated Bhutto in the conspiracy to kill his father, Nawab Mohammad Ahmed Khan.

In a four to three split verdict, a seven-judge Supreme Court bench had upheld the Lahore High Court’s verdict of awarding death sentence to the former prime minister in March 1979 during the rule of then army chief Gen Ziaul Haq, who had overthrown the PPP government in July 1977.

After reaching a consensus, an 11-judge bench had on Dec 12 decided to summon Kasuri, in the interest of justice.

In his reply filed in the apex court on Saturday, Kasuri had questioned the impartiality of seven of the 10 amici curiae appointed by the court to assist it in the reference, saying they could be friends of the court, but certainly not the friends of the complainant (Kasuri). According to him, Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, Abdul Latif Afridi, Barrister Zahoorul Haq, Ali Ahmad Kurd and Tariq Mehmood had a strong leaning and unstinted loyalty towards Bhutto.

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