RAWALPINDI: Anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Rawalpindi on Thursday announced the verdict in the Benazir Bhutto murder case. According to the judgment, the court acquitted five suspects over lack of evidence against them and announced 17-year imprisonment for both the police officials including Saud Aziz, Khurram Shahzad and declared retired Gen Pervez Musharraf an absconder in the case.

The verdict was announced by judge Muhammad Asghar Khan under strict security arrangements at Rawalpindi’s Adiyala Jail.

The court has also directed to forfeit the property of former president Pervez Musharraf in the case. ATC has sentenced former Rawalpindi CPO Saud Aziz and former Rawal Town SP Khurram Shahzad to 17 years in prison, and fined them Rs5 lac apiece. Both police officers have been arrested from Adiala Jail.

The court acquitted five suspects over lack of evidence against them. The five suspects including Rafaqat Hussain, Husnain Gul, Sher Zaman, Aitzaz Shah and Abdul Rashid have been cleared of all charges.

The ATC had on Wednesday reserved the judgment in the murder case of former PM. ATC Rawalpindi heard the case during which prosecutor of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Khawaja Asif and the lawyers of the suspects presented their arguments.

Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a gun-and-bomb attack outside Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh on December 27, 2007 while Musharraf was president. She was killed after addressing an election campaign rally in the city.

A trial of five suspects, who were arrested by police, started in February 2008 which was later handed over to FIA.

The ATC had indicted former president Pervez Musharraf in the case in February 2011, and in August the same year he was declared a proclaimed offender. A separate case was filed against his continuous absence.The policemen, CPO Saud Aziz and SP Rawal Town Khurram Shahzad have also been imposed a fine of Rs0.5 million each, and in case of non-payment, they will have to serve an additional six months in jail.

During the course of the proceedings, seven challans of the case were presented and eight judges and three courts were changed.  The Court has also directed authorities to seize Musharraf's properties.