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Pakistan Politics Trending Now

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Was Executed Without a Fair Trial: Supreme Court

Islamabad: The Supreme Court has issued a detailed opinion on the presidential reference in the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto case, written by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, stating that an innocent person was executed without a fair trial.

Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, in his 48-page opinion, wrote that the execution of Zulfikar Bhutto directly benefited Zia-ul-Haq. General Zia-ul-Haq’s survival depended on Bhutto being sentenced. If Zulfikar Bhutto had been released, he could have prosecuted Zia-ul-Haq for high treason.

The opinion noted that when the case against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was conducted, martial law was in place, and the courts did not have constitutional authority. The country and its courts were prisoners of martial law at that time.

According to the Supreme Court, the case was transferred without notifying Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. For the first time in the country’s judicial history, a murder trial was directly conducted in the Lahore High Court. There is no prior or subsequent example of this, not even in all of Asia, where a high court conducted a direct murder trial.

The opinion further stated that courts swearing allegiance to a dictator cannot be considered public courts. Justices Jamal Mandokhail and Hasan Azhar Rizvi agreed with the opinion.

The evidence to sentence Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to death was insufficient. There were no direct evidences for charging Bhutto under Section 302. For 11 years, the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto reference was not even scheduled for a hearing. All the judges who initially heard the reference retired before a decision could be made.

The Supreme Court clarified that they are neither hearing an appeal nor a review. The Constitution or law does not provide a mechanism to nullify the sentence. After the review was dismissed by the Supreme Court, Bhutto’s sentence decision became final. A presidential reference cannot annul a final decision.

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