Crime & Justice

Pakistan’s top court reopens former PM’s death sentence case

Islamabad, Dec 12 (EFE).- The apex court of Pakistan reopened on Tuesday the hearings in the controversial hanging of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1979 during the military rule of Zia-ul-Haq, which critics call a “judicial murder.”

“For forty years, the hands of the Supreme Court have been stained with the blood of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto…today is an opportunity for the Supreme Court to undo a grievous wrong,” the former Prime Minister’s granddaughter Aseefa Bhutto Zardari said on X (formerly Twitter).

Zulfikar was the president of Pakistan between 1971 and 1973 and was the prime minister between 1973 and 1977.

He was the founder of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) which has traditionally opposed the country’s powerful military.

In 1977, Zulfikar was removed from power when his army chief, General Zia-ul Haq, carried out a military coup to overthrow the government.

He was tried and sentenced to death by the Lahore High Court whose verdict was upheld by the seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court in March 1979.

Critics have called the conviction politically motivated by the then-army chief Zia-ul Haq and hoped to find justice in the current nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court.

The case was reopened in 2011 when the then-president Asif Ali Zardari, also Zulfikar’s son-in-law, filed a presidential reference in the top court.

The presidential reference allows the president to refer any question of public importance to the Supreme Court to seek its opinion on the matter.

Zardari’s wife Benazir Bhutto – daughter of Zulfikar – was assassinated in 2007.

The court has held six hearings in the case so far, the last of which was in November 2012.

The top court, which was hearing the case after over a decade, broadcast the proceedings live on Tuesday.

The court set the next hearing date to January 2024. EFE


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