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Pakistan court declares Musharraf 'proclaimed offender'

Monday May 30, 2011 06:29:21 PM, IANS

Islamabad: An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan Monday declared former president Pervez Musharraf a "proclaimed offender" or fugitive for failing to cooperate in the probe into the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, media reports said.

Judge Rana Nisar Ahmed of the Rawalpindi-based court declared Musharraf a fugitive on the request of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the Online news agency reported.

The proceeding were held in the Adiala Jail due to security reasons.

Prosecutors said they had been unable to deliver the arrest warrant issued by the court to Musharraf.

Authorities in Britain - where Musharraf has been living in self-imposed exile since 2009 - had not provided help in delivering the warrant as Britain has no extradition treaty with Pakistan, the prosecutors told the court.

Advertisements about declaring Musharraf as a "proclaimed offender" would be published in newspapers, the judge said.

Authorities would also be allowed to impound the former president's movable and immovable assets.

The trial of five suspects, allegedly involved in Bhutto's killing in 2007, has been held up due to Musharraf's refusal to cooperate with investigators.

The prosecutors also showed the court an interview given by Musharraf, where he reportedly said he was aware of the trial underway in Pakistan.

Fawad Chaudhry, spokesperson of Musharraf's party All Pakistan Muslim League, said his party leader being declared a proclaimed offender aims at stalling Musharaf's coming home, but this would not deter him in his determination, Geo News reported.

The Rawalpindi court had issued an arrest warrant for Musharraf in February after investigators declared him an "absconder".

Investigators alleged that Musharraf's government had failed to provide sufficient security to Bhutto after she returned to Pakistan from self-exile in 2007.

Bhutto was killed when a suicide bomb was detonated after she had addressed an election rally in Rawalpindi in December that year.




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