Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bhatti murder case in Pakistan increasingly murky

Justice remains elusive for Shahbaz Bhatti,
who was murdered in March 2011.
Pray that God will bring about justice
in an unjust world (Psalm 140).
The investigation into the murder of Pakistan’s only cabinet-level Christian, Shahbaz Bhatti, has become mired amid suspicions of a possible cover-up, reports Compass Direct News.

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, sources said. A trial court in the garrison town of Rawalpindi this month exonerated yet another suspect arrested for his alleged role in the murder.

Rana Masood Akhtar, special judge in Anti-terrorism Court II, freed Ziaur Rehman after an investigating officer told the court that he was no longer wanted in the case due to lack of evidence. 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.”

Bhatti was an outspoken critic of the country’s widely condemned “blasphemy” laws. At the scene of Bhatti’s murder, police recovered a leaflet, presumably left by the attackers, asserting that they had killed him for raising his voice against the 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.

To read the full report, click here. For more information on Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, visit our Pakistan Country Report.

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