PESHAWAR, 29 September: The federal government has challenged the verdict of the anti-terrorism court in the Benazir Bhutto murder case in the Rawalpindi Bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC).

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) filed two appeals with LHC, stating that the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) had erred while announcing verdict in the case.

The FIA stated that it had arrested five accused persons in the murder case of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and recovered weapons and other materials from their possession but the ATC acquitted them.

The government has prayed to the court to reverse the acquittal of the accused and award them capital punishment. It further prayed that the conviction of the police officers should also be enhanced to death sentence.

The anti-terrorism court in its verdict dated August 30, acquitted all the five accused due to lack of evidences and declared former dictator Pervez Musharraf a fugitive. The trial court declared the then city police officer (CPO), Saud Aziz, and the then superintendent of police (SP), Khurram Shahzad, as facilitators in the crime and convicted each of them for 17-year jail term and a fine of Rs10m.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has already challenged the ATC’s decision, demanding death sentence for all the accused, including former president Pervez Musharraf. The hearing on the appeals will begin on October 2.

Former prime minister and chairperson of Pakistan Peoples Party Benazir Bhutto was killed in a gun attack following a suicide bomb blast in Rawalpindi’s Liaqat Bagh on December 27, 2007.