A friend of Shahbaz Bhatti weeps as he looks at the of the former minorities minister after he was attacked in
in March, 2011. A court in Islamabad disposed of the murder case of Bhatti, for lack of evidence against the suspect. – File photo by AP Rawalpindi
A quick recap for those of you who may need it. Extremists shot dead Shahbaz Bhatti over a year ago. The police investigation has been marred by various delays, obfuscations and false leads, including bizarre accusations that the killing was done by a relative over a family feud over property rights. The issue has been surrounded by mystery, but several of those said to credibly be prime suspects were allowed by delays to flee to the Middle East to avoid arrest.
Of the two suspects who fled to Dubai, Ziaur Rehman and Malik Abid, Ziaur Rehman was caught in February, but at the trial he was acquitted by the judge at the Anti-Terrorism Court because please petitioned the court to release him as allegedly no evidence against him was found.
Headlines in Pakistani papers a year after his death said 'Three arrests and releases later, Bhatti's probe trail goes cold'. Well, now it is 'Four arrests and releases....' which feels more and more like forces are deliberately allowing the trail to go cold and protecting the real perpetrators.
What forces and threats are the religious extremists behind the assassination exerting on police, witnesses and judges? We don't know. Only one suspect of the two is tracked down in Dubai, with enough evidence apparently to demand his extradition from Dubai, yet suddenly there is no evidence to connect him with the assassination? That certainly does raise eyebrows, whether the decision to release him was correct or not!
In the ATC-II hearing held by Special Judge Rana Masood in
Zulfiqar Maloka, defence counsel, withdrew his bail plea after the court gave its decision.
Rehman was arrested in