Rawalpindi - Special public prosecutor of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Chaudhry Azhar Ali yesterday refused to contest assassination case of former Premier Benazir Bhutto (BB) being heard in an anti-terrorism court after the interior ministry pulled out his official security.

However, Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Special Judge Rai Muhammad Ayub Marth held proceeding in the high profile case in absence of FIA prosecutor. Another Prosecutor Khawaja Imtiaz attended the hearing in the case. Later the hearing was deferred till February 24, 2016. The court ordered the prosecutor to face the court on the next date of hearing. Due to the absence of the FIA prosecutor, the court could not record the statement of Shoaib Ahmed, FIA Assistant Director and an investigation officer in BB case. Talking to media men, Naseer Ahmed Tanoli, a defence lawyer, said that the judge was unhappy over absence of the prosecutors. He said that the court noted in its order that it would record the statement of the investigation officer on the next date of hearing even in absence of the FIA prosecutors. When contacted, FIA Special Public Prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar Ali said that he informed the court by phone about withdrawal of police security by interior ministry and his inability to appear in the court. Azhar was of view that he wrote a letter to the interior ministry about withdrawal of the security on February 12 when the move was made by the ministry. He said that he had to travel from Sialkot to Rawalpindi to pursue the case. He said that he could not travel without proper security. He added that in May 2013 Chaudhry Muhammad Zulfiqar, FIA prosecutor in BB murder case, was shot dead in Islamabad. “I will not appear before court without proper security,” he pledged.