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Pakistan's Anti Terrorism Court given 3 months to complete Bhutto trial
Publication Date : 14-02-2013
The Lahore High Court (LHC) directed the Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) on Wednesday to complete the trial for the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister, politician and stateswoman Benazir Bhutto - in three months.
The Rawalpindi bench of the LHC comprising Justice Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Ali Baqir Najafi asked the ATC to conduct day-to-day proceedings and submit a report of its verdict to the LHC registrar's office in three months.
The court issued the order on a petition filed by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on January 5. The FIA had earlier filed three petitions for daily trial and the LHC had directed the ATC to engage in expeditious disposal of the case.
FIA special prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali said that under Subsection 7 of Section 19 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), the ATC was bound to decide a case within a month.
He pointed out that the ATC had decided a case about the killing of a civilian by a Rangers official in Karachi in a month and the Salman Taseer assassination case was decided in six months, but the Bhutto murder case had been pending for adjudication since December 2007.
He also produced a letter by LHC Administrative Judge Manzoor Ahmed Malik in which all ATCs in Punjab had been directed to dispose of all terrorism cases in accordance with the ATA.
The ATCs were also asked not to allow more than two consecutive adjournments during the trial.
The FIA prosecutor pointed out that the LHC had at least three times ordered the ATC to decide the Bhutto case expeditiously, but the trial court continued to dismiss the prosecution plea for day-to-day trial citing workload and busy schedules of defence lawyers.