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7 Pakistanis indicted in Bhutto assassination

An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan on Saturday indicted seven people in the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive]. A senior officer and the former police chief of Rawalpindi, where the assassination took place, along with five militants, alleged members of the Pakistani Taliban, were among those charged with conspiracy [NYT report] in Bhutto's murder. Special prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar said negligence charges against the officers stem from their orders to remove evidence, hose down the crime scene two hours after the attack, and reduce security measures for Bhutto leading up to the attack. The five militants allegedly aided the suicide bomber and gunman [Al Jazeera report]. Former president Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], who was accused of being involved in the assassination [JURIST report] by the Federal Investigation Agency of Pakistan [official website] in February, was not charged.

The Pakistani government and police forces have been criticized for their involvement 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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