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Pakistan court orders police arrested in Bhutto assassination investigation

A Pakistani Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) issued warrants on Saturday for the arrest of two police officers accused of failing to protect assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive]. Special Judge of ATC Rana Nisar Ahmed Khan issued non-bailable warrants [Daily Times post] for the arrests of former police chief of the city of Rawalpindi, Syed Saud Aziz and one of his deputies, Khurram Shahzad. Special prosecutor Chaudry Zulfiqar Ali had argued that the officers failed to adequately provide [Reuters report] for Bhutto's security and ordered the crime scene hosed down. The court will resume hearings on December 11, when it will also charge five others who have already been arrested.

The Pakistani government and police forces have been criticized before for their part in Bhutto's assassination. In April, the independent UN commission formed to investigate the assassination issued a report [JURIST report] holding the Pakistani government and police forces responsible for failing to provide adequate security. The report also accused the government of failing to launch a proper investigation into the assassination. The three-member commission was formed [JURIST report] in June 2009. Members included former Chilean Ambassador to the UN Heraldo Munoz, former attorney general of Indonesia Marzuki Darusman, and Peter Fitzgerald, a former deputy police commissioner in the Irish National Police who has served with the UN in other capacities. Bhutto was killed in a suicide attack in December 2007 that claimed the lives of at least 20 other people. At that time, Bhutto was the head of the opposition Pakistan People's Party, which was challenging then-prime minister Pervez Musharraf's Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) [party websites] in the lead-up to parliamentary elections.

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