Fourteen countries have so far joined in attempting to persuade Pakistan to commute the death sentence passed on former Premier, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
Fourteen countries have so far joined in attempting to persuade Pakistan to commute the death sentence passed on former Premier, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. On Tuesday (6 February Pakistan's Supreme Court confirmed Mr Bhutto's death sentence on charges that he ordered a political assassination four years ago. One of the international pleas to spare Mr Bhutto's life came from Britain and Pakistan called it interference in the internal affairs of another country. Mr. Bhutto's lawyers are preparing a petition to have the case reviewed but Mr Bhutto himself has said he will not appeal for clemency.
SYNOPSIS: The Supreme Court was split 4-3 in rejecting Mr Bhutto's appeal. Pakistan's Law Minister, Mr A.K. Brohi, has said the verdict was not political but had been made by a court of law. A friend of the Bhutto family collapsed on hearing the decision. Four other defendants - all officers of the former Federal Security Force confessed to the ambush in 1974 of a vocal critic of Mr Bhutto, Mr Ahmed Raza Kasur. Mr Kasur escaped but his father was killed. All four men had their death sentences confirmed. Mr Bhutto's conviction was linked to the same incident.
The Court decision was rushed to the country in special editions of newspapers and flashed around the world in minutes by news services. Security throughout the country has been tightened to prevent any disturbances following the court's decision.
It was reported that before the court's decision was announced, hundreds of leading supporters of Mr Bhutto's had been arrested. A senior government official has said Mr Bhutto will not be executed before all possible court procedures are exhausted. mr Bhutto's chief defence counsel, Mr Yahya Bakhtiar, said there was no precedent for ruling by panel of judges.
The Supreme Court has given Mr Bhutto's lawyers until the fourteenth of February to find new grounds that could lead to a re-hearing if case. If there are no further appeals Mr Bhutto could be hanged on the sixteenth of February.