Former Exiled Pakistani President Charged With Bhutto Murder

Details remain murky of former president's involvement in assassination of iconic leader.

Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf was indicted for murder Wednesday in connection with the assassination of Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007.

Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf was indicted for murder Wednesday in connection with the assassination of Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007.

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The former president of Pakistan, who until recently was exiled in London, has been charged with the assassination of iconic Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was killed in a gun and bomb attack in 2007.

A court in Pakistan indicted Pervez Musharraf, the former army chief who became president after he successfully waged a coup d'etat in 1999. He is charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and facilitation of murder, though the explicit details of his participation in the killing are still unclear. He has been previously accused of not doing enough to protect Bhutto.

Pakistan's former prime minister Benazir Bhutto during a news conference in Karachi December 13, 2007. (Athar Hussain/Reuters)

Musharraf, who dramatically fell from power in 2008, faces a litany of legal issues and is currently under house arrest. He plead not guilty on Tuesday.

"These are all fabricated cases. There is nothing solid in all these cases," said Afshan Adil, one of his lawyers. The legal proceedings mark the first time the government has formally charged Musharraf with a crime regarding the assassination.

[FLASHBACK: Musharraf Blames Terrorists For Bhutto's Murder]

Bhutto was the daughter of Pakistan People's Party founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who served as president and later prime minister from 1971 to 1977, before he was deposed in a coup and executed two years later. She fled to Britain, where she had attended university at Oxford, and returned from exile in 1986. She was met with cheering crowds so large her motorcade took more than 9 hours to travel 8 miles.

She became the first ever woman to govern a Muslim nation after she was first elected in 1988, which was met with mixed feelings from some prominent scholars in Pakistan. Bhutto was jailed multiple times for her political commitment, including her support for the poor and condemnation of the military.

She was assassinated in Rawalpindi, where her father was hanged in 1979. The resulting waves of protests propelled the PPP to power, as well as helped her husband Asif Ali Zardari become president.

The true cause of her death was met with some skepticism from some doctors in her home nation, according to a National Institutes of Health report. The Pakistan Medical Association pointed to conflicting reports that she was killed by wounds to her head, by a skull fracture or by gunshots to her neck.

Musharraf, then president, asked then-U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2008 to send an investigative team to Pakistan, who eventually concluded there was not enough evidence to determine the true cause of death.

[READ: Musharraf Flees Court, Placed Under House Arrest in Pakistan]

"All the forensic evidence has been lost from the crime scene, and there is little usable footage of the attack," one of the team members said.

A U.N. report in 2010 was highly critical of the Pakistani authorities' handling of the crime scene, including reports that they hosed it down and did not conduct a thorough autopsy.

Bhutto was able to return to Pakistan through a deal with Musharraf, which his supporters point to as evidence that he had no objections to her presence there.

 

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