An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan on Thursday named the country’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf a fugitive in the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. The move came at the end of a murder trial in which charges against five alleged Taliban militants were dropped and two police officers were found guilty. The cops, guilty of “mishandling a crime scene,” are the only people to have been convicted in the case in the nearly 10 years since the assassination.
Bhutto was a prominent Pakistani politician who served two stints as the country’s prime minister, from 1988-1990 and from 1993-1996. She was the first woman to be elected to lead a Democratic government in a Muslim majority country. Bhutto had recently returned to Pakistan in 2007 after a self-imposed exile. She was gunned down on a street in Rawalpindi in late December. The assassin shot Bhutto in the neck, then detonated an explosive device, killing himself and 24 others. But the crime has been shrouded in mystery ever since, and even those details are not 100 percent definitive.
According to a U.N. report released in 2010, the blame for the assassination was squarely placed on Musharraf’s administration for having not provided adequate security to Bhutto. But several conspiracy theories have swirled for the last decade. Musharraf blamed the assassination on Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban chief at the time. But he was killed in a 2009 drone strike by the U.S.
Musharraf fled Pakistan last year and has not returned. Observers said the outcome delivered by the court gave no more clarity as to who actually orchestrated Bhutto’s killing.
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