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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Awan to argue over Bhutto Reference today

ISLAMABAD: Former law minister Babar Awan will open his arguments before Supreme Court bench over the Presidential reference for re-opening of the Bhutto case.

Awan yesterday quit his ministry to assist the apex court in deciding whether it could revisit its 1979 judgment that sent former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to the gallows — a verdict that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and many others regard as a historical wrong.

A three-member bench of the court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry will hear the case.

The reference was filed under Article 186 (1 and 2) of the Constitution which empowers the president to refer a question of public importance to the apex court to seek its opinion. It was filed in line with a decision taken by the PPP, which Mr Bhutto had founded, and endorsed by the federal cabinet.

The Supreme Court has the authority to consider the reference and give its opinion to the president.

Mr Bhutto’s execution on April 4, 1979, followed a 4-3 decision of a bench of the Supreme Court amid allegations of manipulation of the court at the behest of military ruler Gen Mohammad Ziaul Haq who ignored numerous appeals from world leaders for clemency for the leader he had toppled in July 1977. The ruling was an endorsement of conviction of Mr Bhutto by Lahore High Court in a conspiracy to murder case.

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