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News Wrap: Pakistan Charges Former President Failed to Prevent Bhutto Killing

August 20, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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KWAME HOLMAN: Pakistan’s former President Pervez Musharraf was charged today with failing to prevent the anniversary of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007. Musharraf’s called the case fabricated.

We have a report narrated by John Sparks of Independent Television News.

JOHN SPARKS:  Armed personnel were stationed around the courthouse, forming a reception committee of sorts for Pakistan’s former president.

But this wasn’t a moment Pervez Musharraf would treasure. In fact, he seemed reluctant to get out of his vehicle. But the country’s former military ruler had little choice. He had been summoned to court. Prosecutors were ready to indict him. And in a 20-minute hearing, Mr. Musharraf was charged with murdering the iconic former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Pervez Musharraf didn’t speak, we’re told, but his lawyers pleaded not guilty on his behalf. The case has shattered an unwritten rule, that military leaders are untouchable in Pakistan. Remember, it’s been ruled by the generals for one-half of its existence. Still, Mr. Musharraf will be judged by the courts, although his lawyers say there’s no evidence he murdered Benazir Bhutto.

AFSHA ADIL, attorney for Pervez Musharraf: The important thing is that you will have to prove the allegations with evidence. And, still, there is no evidence on record.

JOHN SPARKS:  After years of self-exile, Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan in 2007 to contest elections.

BENAZIR BHUTTO, Former Prime Minister of Pakistan: I feel very, very emotional coming back to my country.

JOHN SPARKS:  Yet she knew she was taking a risk. She narrowly escaped one assassination attempt in Karachi; 136 people were killed. Later, she warned of another plot to kill her.

BENAZIR BHUTTO: So, I have heard the next attack is going to be by placing certain people in the police department near my house in Clifton.

JOHN SPARKS:  And two months later, she would lose her life as she waved to supporters after a rally in the city in Rawalpindi.

(GUNFIRE)

JOHN SPARKS:  Pervez Musharraf, then president, blamed the Pakistan Taliban. Yet prosecutors say responsibility lies with Mr. Musharraf because he failed to properly protect her.

KWAME HOLMAN: Musharraf will be back in court for another hearing next week.

The damaged Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan has leaked its largest amount of radioactive water yet; 300,000 tons of highly-irradiated water escaped one of the plant’s storage tanks and seeped into the ground. The plant was crippled in March 2011 when it was flooded by a massive tsunami, triggering meltdowns in its reactors. The power company said it has not determined the cause of the latest leak and issued this warning.

MASAYUKI ONO, Tokyo Electric Power Company (through interpreter): It’s the equivalent of a limit for accumulated exposure over five years for nuclear workers, so it can be said that we found a radiation level strong enough to give someone a five-year dose of radiation within one hour.

KWAME HOLMAN: Four other tanks at the plant have experienced similar leaks since last year.

A preeminent United Nations panel now says there’s 95 percent certainty human activity is the main cause of global warming. The findings in their summary were published in The New York Times ahead of their report’s release. The group of several hundred scientists warned, unless carbon emissions are slowed, sea levels could rise by more than three feet by the end of this century.

Near 100 groups and individuals have filed objections to the city of Detroit’s request for bankruptcy protection. The deadline to file was Monday at midnight. Among the filers was the city’s largest employee union. It claimed the city has not yet proven it’s insolvent. Kevyn Orr, the city’s emergency manager, says Detroit faces at least $18 billion in liabilities.

A federal judge has granted California prison officials permission to force-feed inmates waging a nearly seven-week-long hunger strike. About 130 inmates in six of the state’s prisons have refused meals since July 8. They’re protesting solitary confinement of reputed gang leaders and other inmates, some lasting more than a decade. State officials say about 70 of the strikers are in failing health.

Stocks on Wall Street were mixed today, but there were better results from retailers. The Dow Jones industrials lost more than seven points, to close at 15,003. The NASDAQ rose 24 points to close at 3613.

The bestselling crime novelist Elmore Leonard died at his home in Michigan today from complications of a stroke. Leonard published more than 40 novels during his career, many with con men and gangsters as the main characters. The 1985 novel “Glitz” set in Atlantic City was his first bestseller. A number of Leonard’s books made it to the big and small screen, among them “Get Shorty” and the current FX show “Justified.”

Elmore Leonard was 87 years old.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Judy.