World News

Pakistan's Musharraf Charged with Murder in Bhutto Killing


A Pakistani court has charged former military ruler Pervez Musharraf with murder in connection with the 2007 assassination of opposition leader and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Tuesday's indictment of Mr. Musharraf by a court in Rawalpindi marks the first time a former Pakistani military chief has been charged with a crime.

Mr. Musharraf took power in a 1999 coup and later served as president until resigning under threat of impeachment by his opponents in 2008 and going into exile.

Prosecutors charged him with murder, conspiracy to murder and facilitation of murder in the gun and bomb attack that killed Ms. Bhutto as she left a political rally in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007.

They did not specify how Mr. Musharraf is suspected of involvement in that incident.

The former Pakistani leader appeared in court and pleaded not guilty, while his defense team represented by lawyer Afshan Adil dismissed the charges as false, fabricated and politically motivated.


"Of all the offenses that he has been charged with, not a single case is applicable to the [former] president. I don't know how these proceedings are being carried out against him."


American lobbyist Mark Siegel, a former Bhutto speech writer, has accused Mr. Musharraf of threatening her in a phone call before she returned to Pakistan from exile in October 2007. Siegel's U.S. law firm Locke Lord declined to comment when asked by VOA for his reaction to the indictment.

The court adjourned the case until August 27.



In a March 2012 article for the New York Daily News, Siegel said he believes Mr. Musharraf conspired to kill Ms. Bhutto because her party appeared on the verge of a landslide victory against his supporters in a 2008 parliamentary election.

A U.N. commission of inquiry into the assassination released a report in 2010, saying Mr. Musharraf's government "failed in its responsibility" to protect Ms. Bhutto after she returned from exile with his consent to compete in that election.

Mr. Musharraf blamed the assassination on Taliban militants and said he warned her of militant threats to her safety. A Pakistani government investigation released in 2012 concluded that Mr. Musharraf knew of the assassination plot in advance and ordered the destruction of evidence.

The former president returned to Pakistan in March after almost four years in self-imposed exile in a bid to resurrect his political career. But, he has faced a series of legal problems since then.

In the first major setback, Pakistani courts barred Mr. Musharraf from running in May's parliamentary election. In another blow, the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif began investigating him for treason on suspicion of violating the constitution multiple times while in power.

Mr. Sharif's party won the May election, returning to the prime minister's post that he held until Mr. Musharraf ousted him in the 1999 coup and sent him into exile. Mr. Sharif returned to Pakistan in 2007 with Mr. Musharraf's consent and served in the opposition until his recent election victory.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs