Accessibility links

Pakistani Police Re-Arrest Bhutto's Husband

Police in Pakistan have re-arrested the husband of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto for failing to appear at a court hearing in a murder case.

Political supporters and witnesses say that Benazir Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, was taken into custody at the Islamabad airport soon after he arrived on a flight from Karachi.

Mr. Zardari was freed on bail last month after spending eight years in jail on charges ranging from corruption to murder.

An anti-terrorism court in Karachi Tuesday ordered his re-arrest for failing to appear at a bail hearing in a murder case. Mr. Zardari is accused of plotting the murder of a judge in the 1990's.

Aitizaz Ahsan, a senior leader of Ms. Bhutto's political party, condemned the move as a political act. "This is sheer high handedness," he said. "It's illegal. It's unconstitutional."

Outside the Islamabad airport, hundreds of his supporters clashed with police before Mr. Zardari's flight landed.

Police used batons and lobbed tear gas to disperse the crowed.

Mr. Ahsan says police have detained dozens of party activists. "Masked policemen have been going around arresting our workers. Our women have been dragged and thrown into trucks and taken away," he added. "The government has panicked obviously."

Mr. Zardari had planned to give a speech to his supporters in the city of Rawalpindi, near the capital.

Government ministers have defended the re-arrest of Mr. Zardari, saying police are bound to go by the decision of the court.

Mr. Zardari is accused of corruption while his wife was the prime minister of Pakistan in the early 1990s.

Ms. Bhutto has been living in self-imposed exile since early 1999 to avoid arrest herself in corruption cases.