Former Pakistan Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto has presided over a strategy meeting of his Pakistan People's Party the day after he was granted bail at a court hearing in Lahore.
Former Pakistan Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto has presided over a strategy meeting of his Pakistan People's Party the day after he was granted bail at a court hearing in Lahore. Mr. Bhutto appeared in court on Tuesday (13 September) in connection with the murder of a Pakistan politician in November, 1974. No formal charges relating to the murder have been laid against the former Prime Minister, who was deposed in a military coup in July. But he's also been accused of complicity in the kidnapping of political rivals in 1975 and their illegal detention in a remote mountain camp. Mr. Bhutto pleaded not guilty to four charges relating to the illegal detentions and kidnap complicity and was granted bail.
SYNOPSIS: Before his two-day appearance at the Lahore court, Mr. Bhutto had been questioned for ten days in jail. Pakistan's military rulers ordered tight security measures for Mr. Bhutto's court appearance, which attracted crowds of his supporters and opponents. Police escorted him into the court. Months of legal battles, involving Mr. Bhutto, are certain to lie ahead.
His lawyer told a packed court that Pakistan's military rulers feared the deposed Prime Minister's popularity and were detaining him to prevent his campaigning.
Pakistan's elections will be held on October 18, and Mr. Bhutto will be on trial while vital campaigning is under way. Although he's been granted bail on the murder and murder and kidnap complicity charges, Mr. Bhutto still faces contempt of court proceedings over the illegal detention accusations. As he left the court on bail of 50,000 rupees (GBP3,129, US $5465), Mr. Bhutto faced a barrage of reporters and was jostled as police escorted him to a car. Later, he attacked the military regime for "putting all kinds of barriers" against him, and while not ruling out the possibility of re-arrest defied anyone to challenge his leadership of the People's Party. Mr. Bhutto has already begun campaigning.