The Interpol has turned down Pakistan’s request to issue a Red Corner Notice for the former military ruler Pervez Musharraf for refusing to cooperate in the probe into Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, days ahead of his homecoming from self-exile.
Mr. Musharraf has cleared the final hurdle to his plans to return to Pakistan as he no longer faces the possibility of arrest at the hands of Interpol, The Express Tribune quoted its sources as saying.
The 69-year-old former President, who went into self-exile in early 2009, has said he intends to return to Pakistan on March 24 to lead his party All Pakistan Muslim League in upcoming polls.
Islamabad’s request to issue a Red Corner Notice for Mr. Musharraf was rejected by the Interpol headquarters in a reply sent to Pakistani authorities, who had sought an arrest warrant for him as a suspect in Bhutto’s assassination.
In its reply, Interpol said the possible arrest of Mr. Musharraf seems to be “politically motivated.”
The agency said the case filed against Mr. Musharraf in Pakistan through Interpol channels constitutes a matter of a predominantly “political character.”
This is the second time a request from the Federal Investigation Agency has been rejected by Interpol.
Last year, Interpol rejected the same request due to insufficient documents submitted by Pakistani authorities.
In response, Pakistani authorities sent a second request to the Interpol director with investigation reports, including copies of statements by former Inter-Services Intelligence counter-intelligence wing chief Javed Iqbal Cheema, former Intelligence Bureau chief Ejaz Shah, U.S.-based journalist Marc Siegel’s emails to Bhutto and copies of orders issued by an anti-terrorism court against Mr. Musharraf.
The anti-terrorism court had declared Mr. Musharraf a fugitive and issued arrest warrants for him after he refused to cooperate with investigators probing Bhutto’s assassination.
In its latest reply, Interpol said that after having reviewed the data and documents and after having applied the “predominance test”, it found the suits against Mr. Musharraf “engaged by Pakistan” have a “political character”, even though he is sought for offences of ordinary law and not inherently political ones.
“In this political context, it was necessary to pay a particular attention to the quality of the elements provided to characterise the effective participation of Mr. Musharraf in the acts he is accused of, and to the effective link between these elements and Benazir Bhutto’s murder,” the reply said.
On March 19, Mr. Musharraf requested the government to provide him security on his return to Pakistan.