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Pakistan court issues second warrant for ex-president Musharraf

A Pakistani anti-terrorism court on Saturday issued a second arrest warrant for former military president Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] for not appearing in court for charges related to the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive]. Authorities were unable to serve an arrest warrant issued last Saturday [JURIST report] because Musharraf is currently living in self-imposed exile in London [CNN report]. Prosecutor of the Federal Investigation Agency of Pakistan (FIA) [official website] Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali said the latest court order allows authorities to serve the new warrant at Musharraf's residences both in Pakistan and abroad. Musharraf's defense counsel, Muhammad Ali Saif [Pakistan Herald profile], said that the charges were politically motivated and unwarranted. The court adjourned the hearing until March 5 to ensure Musharraf is present.

Earlier this month, the court determined Musharraf had not cooperated during the investigation of Bhutto's death, and investigators have alleged that Musharraf did not provide adequate security [DAWN report] for Bhutto when she was assassinated during a campaign rally in Pakistan in 2007. According to an interim criminal charge sheet issued earlier this month [JURIST report] by the FIA, Musharraf appointed and allegedly gave orders to the police officers accused of failing to protect Bhutto on the day she was assassinated. Specifically, the prosecution document alleges that Musharraf ordered the officers to remove a security detail for Bhutto prior to her departure and that he later ordered the same officers to hose down the scene of the assassination. The January Salman Taseer assassination [JURIST report] was the most high-profile assassination since that of Bhutto in 2007 [JURIST report] and again involved issues of security. The Pakistani government and police forces have been criticized for their part in Bhutto's assassination. In April 2010, an independent UN commission formed to investigate the assassination issued a report holding the Pakistani government and police forces responsible [JURIST report] for failing to provide adequate security. The report also accused the government of failing to launch a proper investigation into the assassination.

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