Pakistan: Man acquitted in Benazir Bhutto assassination plot missing from Lahore jail

Pakistan: Man acquitted in Benazir Bhutto assassination plot missing from Lahore jail

Rafaqat Hussain had been holed up at the Kot Lakhpat jail even after a court in Pakistan had acquitted him last year.

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto leaves after addressing her last public rally in Rawalpindi. (AP)

An accused in the murder case of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was last year acquitted by a Pakistan court, is said to be missing from the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore, The Express Tribune reported on Tuesday. Rafaqat Hussain had been holed up in the jail even after the verdict from the court last year.

According to the report, Hussain’s father filed a plea in the Lahore High Court (LHC) and claimed his son had gone missing from the prison. He claimed that his son was acquitted in the case, but was still being detained. The court has accepted the plea and directed the Police to submit a reply in the matter on July 16.

In August 2017, nearly 10 years after the assassination of Bhutto, the court had acquitted five suspects affiliated to the Tehreek-e-Taliban– Rafaqat Hussain, Husnain Gul, Sher Zaman, Aitzaz Shah, and Abdul Rashid. It convicted two police officials, Saud Aziz and Khurram Shahzad, for not making proper security arrangements for Benazir at Liaquat Bagh and not securing the crime scene to protect evidence after the assassination.

Immediately after the killing, then president Parvez Musharraf announced that it had been ordered by the then leader of TTP Beithullah Mehsud (subsequently killed in a US drone attack in south Waziristan). The PPP rejected the theory, saying Musharraf had pre-empted an investigation, and that his statement was intended to cover up a possible involvement by the intelligence agencies.