Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bhatti Murder Case in Pakistan Increasingly Murky

Bhatti Murder Case in Pakistan Increasingly Murky: "Lax investigation, possible cover-up mar attempt at justice."

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, May 25 (Compass Direct News) – The investigation into the murder of Pakistan’s only cabinet-level Christian, Shahbaz Bhatti, has become mired amid suspicions of a possible cover-up, sources said. Lax investigations, a series of freed suspects and lack of coordination across law enforcement organizations have stalled the case following the March 2, 2011 slaying of the federal minister for Minority Affairs, they said. A trial court in Rawalpindi this month exonerated yet another suspect arrested for his alleged role in the murder, Ziaur Rehman, after an investigating officer told the court that he was no longer wanted in the case due to lack of evidence. Bhatti’s family cited business disputes between Rehman and Bhatti as their reason for suspecting Rehman. In February police had dropped investigations into another suspect, Abid Malik for lack of evidence. Bhatti’s brother, Paul Bhatti, said the family is not satisfied with the police investigation and authorities’ low level of interest in bringing the perpetrators to justice. “We thought Ziaur Rehman’s arrest would lead us to the killers of my brother, because the police had obtained an international arrest warrant based on evidence,” he said. “I don’t understand why they issued the request [for an Interpol warrant] if they did not have sufficient evidence.” At the scene of Bhatti’s murder, police recovered a leaflet asserting that Bhatti had been killed for raising his voice against Pakistan’s notorious “blasphemy” laws. Officially, police claim that the Taliban were behind the murder, while Interior Minister Rehman Malik has put the blame on militant group Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. Napolean Qayyum, who belongs to the Pakistan People’s Party, as Bhatti did, said there was some indication that officials were hesitating to publicize their assessments of the case.


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