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Pakistan court officially charges Musharraf in assassination of Benzair Bhutto

A Pakistani court on Tuesday officially charged former president Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and facilitation of murder in the 2007 death of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive]. Bhutto, who was the first prime minister of any Islamic nation, was killed at a rally [CNN report] addressing a large crowd of her supporters when a bomb exploded near her vehicle. Bhutto's death came just two weeks after a failed assassination attempt, and prosecutors have accused Musharraf of failing to provide adequate security protection for her. Musharraf appeared before the court in person and pleaded not guilty. He has been detained at his Islamabad farmhouse since April. After the hearing, counsel for Musharraf commented that all of the charges against his client are fabricated.

This is the latest development in the series of charges and legal troubles for Musharraf since Pakistani authorities pledged to arrest [JURIST report] him for his alleged involvement in Bhutto's assassination. In May the Pakistani interim government declined [JURIST report] to try Musharraf for treason because they claimed such action would be outside the scope of their duties. In April the Peshawar High Court of Pakistan banned [JURIST report] Musharraf from running for public office for the rest of his life, as well as extending his house arrest during the ongoing trial regarding the murder of Bhutto. Also in April a Pakistan court extended [JURIST report] Musharraf's bail on charges of illegally detaining judges. In March Human Rights Watch urged [JURIST report] Pakistan to hold Musharraf accountable for alleged human rights abuses upon his return to the country. Last year Pakistani authorities pledged to arrest [JURIST report] Musharraf for his alleged involvement in Bhutto's assassination. In August 2011 a court ordered seizure of his property [JURIST report] and froze his bank account after he failed to respond to multiple subpoenas regarding the assassination investigation.

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