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Pakistan issues arrest warrant for former President Musharraf in death of Bhutto

An arrest warrant for former president Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] was issued Saturday by a Pakistani anti-terrorism court in connection with the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive]. The court determined Musharraf had not cooperated during the investigation of Bhutto's death, and investigators have alleged that Musharraf did not provide adequate security [DAWN report] for Bhutto when she was assassinated during a campaign rally in Pakistan in 2007. According to an interim criminal charge sheet issued last week [JURIST report] by the Federal Investigation Agency of Pakistan (FIA) [official website], Musharraf appointed and allegedly gave orders to the police officers accused of failing to protect Bhutto on the day she was assassinated. Specifically, the prosecution document alleges that Musharraf ordered the officers to remove a security detail for Bhutto prior to her departure and that he later ordered the same officers to hose down the scene of the assassination. Fawad Chaudry, a spokesman for Musharraf's All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) Party, told reporters [Times of India report] that Mushattaf would not comply with the warrant, which demands he appear in Pakistan February 19 for a court date, saying there is "no possibility" that Musharraf will appear in court. According to an unnamed FIA official, Pakistan will seek extradition [Express Tribune report] of Musharraf, who is living in exile in London.

In January, the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was assassinated [JURIST report] by one of his own security guards, apparently due to his opposition to Pakistan's blasphemy law [text; JURIST news archive]. Taseer, a senior member of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) [official website], was shot while getting into his car at Islamabad's Kohsar Market and died later at a hospital. Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the guard immediately surrendered to police and confessed to shooting Taseer because he had spoken against the blasphemy law. This was the most high-profile assassination since that of Bhutto in 2007 [JURIST report] and again involved issues of security. The Pakistani government and police forces have been criticized for their part in Bhutto's assassination. In April 2010, an independent UN commission formed to investigate the assassination issued a report holding the Pakistani government and police forces responsible [JURIST report] for failing to provide adequate security. The report also accused the government of failing to launch a proper investigation into the assassination.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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