The special anti-terrorism court (ATC) hearing the murder case of the PPP supreme leader recorded the statement of Bhutto’s driver, Javaidur Rehman, who also blamed the lack of security outside the rally venue’s gate as the cause of her death almost eight years ago.
In his statement, Rehman told the court he has been employed with former president Asif Zardari for a long time and after Bhutto’s return to the country in 2007, he was the one driving all her vehicles.
Narrating the incident of December 27, 2007, he said once the Liaquat Bagh rally concluded, Bhutto’s vehicle, which he was driving, started to exit the venue. He recalled that the former premier’s security in-charge SSP Imtiaz Ahmed was sitting on the front seat next to him while PPP leaders Naheed Khan and Makhdoom Amin Fahim were sitting in the back next to Bhutto.
As soon as the vehicle exited the park’s gate, a large number of party supporters surrounded the vehicle and I tried in vain to get them to move away by slowly moving forward, he said.
Then, Naheed Khan advised Bhutto to get out from the sunroof and address the workers, and ask them to move away, he recalled further.
Rehman then narrated how the former premier was unable to open the hatch on her own and took help from her domestic servant Razzaq.
He said as soon as Bhutto was out from the sunroof waving to supporters, gunshots and a blast was heard and felt.
Bhutto fell back into the vehicle, I sped away despite the burst tyres and damaged vehicle but had to stop close to General Hospital [now Benazir Bhutto Hospital] as the vehicle could not proceed further, he said in his statement, adding that Bhutto was shifted to another vehicle and taken to the hospital where she died on arrival.
Talking about security issues, he said there was no police presence outside the gate of Liaquat Bagh, suggesting that had there been security staff there to keep the supporters away from the vehicle, the tragedy could have been averted.
During the defence team’s cross-examination, Rehman revealed that he had given the same statement to the police earlier but what they had written in their report did not reflect what he had said.
He said the police have claimed he had given them the keys of the vehicle whereas the keys are still with him, after which he presented the keys.
ATC Judge Rai Ayub Marth also set aside the statement of witness Ishtiaq Hussain Shah, a former SP, by declaring it irrelevant and adjourned the hearing till September 14.
The court also summoned Doctor Azam Yousaf and directed the Interior Ministry to provide a hard copy of witness Mark Siegel’s email in which he had intimated being unwell after which the recording of his testimony was postponed till October.
The hearing was held in Adiala Jail.