A trial court on Monday granted bail to military dictator and former President General (r) Pervez Musharraf in PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto (BB) murder case and ordered his immediate release.

Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) Rawalpindi Number 1 Special Judge Chaudhry Habib-ur-Rehman, while hearing the bail plea filed by Musharraf’s council Barrister Salman Safdar, granted bail to Musharraf and ordered him to submit two surety bonds of worth Rs1 million each as bail money.

During the hearing that lasted for more than two hours, Barrister Safdar argued before the judge that Musharraf had nothing to do with Benazir murder and he was innocent. He said that his client could not be held responsible for skipping of her postmortem when she was killed in December 2007 because it was her husband, now the president, Asif Ali Zardari, who did not permit it.

He said it was strange that the investigators had not made part of interrogation the four other suspects, named by BB in her email she sent to a foreign journalist. “My client has been roped in just to victimise him politically,” he said, adding that security of BB was the responsibility of security officers and not of General (r) Musharraf, who was president at that time.

Earlier, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Special Public Prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar Ali raised objection that Musharraf might flee the country to save his skin in the case. However, the court after hearing both councils ordered to release the former president.

Musharraf’s counsel Barrister Salman Safdar, while talking to media men, said that there was no evidence in any form or shape to remotely connect his client to BB murder case. He said that the court extensively discussed criminal conspiracy and arrived on the decision to grant bail to the former president. He said that it was unfortunate that a former president of the country was detained in sub jail.

Salman said that Musharraf had not directed the firefighters to hose down the crime scene in Liaquat Bagh onDecember 27, 2007. He said that he even could not be held responsible for not carrying out postmortem of the former prime minister. “FIA has ulterior motives by taking the responsibility of investigating BB murder case as it was being interrogating by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed by the government. But they started investigating this case in order to twist the reality” he said.

Meanwhile, AK Dogar advocate, giving arguments before the Supreme Court in the high treason case against Pervez Musharraf, said the ex-military ruler had been proved guilty as he had not contested the charges against him and that the Supreme Court had to determine quantum of sentence only.

A three-member bench, headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and comprising Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, was hearing six identical petitions against the former military dictator for subverting and suspending the Constitution on November 3, 2007.

During the dearing, Dogar, one of the petitioners, contended: “This hearing is the case of conviction and not that of defence as Musharraf was given an opportunity to defend himself, but he did not respond and opted not to contest the charges.”

He said in the Sindh High Court Bar Association SHCBA case a notice was also despatched to Musharraf’s residence in Islamabad, providing to him an opportunity to defend his case, but he did not contest the charges.

Justice Ejaz Afzal remarked that so far the opportunity of hearing had not been given to Musharraf, so such opportunity would be provided through a trial.

Earlier, the lawyers representing Musharraf had focused on the point that he alone was not responsible for the emergency and the bench was not competent to hear the petitions against him.

The bench deferred the hearing till May 23.