Five accused persons in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case were exonerated of all charges on Thursday as an Anti-Terrorism Court(ATC) hearing the case for over nine years announced its verdict, Pakistani media reported.
ATC Judge Asghar Khan announced the verdict in court, where two senior Pakistan police officers Saud Aziz and Khurram Shahzad — suspects out on bail — were also present.
Aziz and Shahzad were sentenced to 17 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of Rs 0.5 million each.
Former president and army chief General (retd) Pervez Musharraf was declared an ‘proclaimed offender.’ A separate case was filed against his continuous absence, the trial for which is yet to begin.
The court had reserved its verdict on Wednesday after the counsels of the suspects completed their arguments.
Bhutto, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chief and two-time former prime minister, was assassinated in a suicide attack at an election campaign rally in Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh on December 27, 2007.
An FIR over the incident was registered on behalf of the state following which the murder trial of five suspects began in February of 2008. However, once PPP won the 2008 elections, the investigation was handed over to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).