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UK sleuths to submit Bhutto probe report this week
Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad | February 07, 2008 14:11 IST
A team from Britain's Scotland Yard probing the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto [Images] will submit its report to the Pakistani authorities this week.
The three-member team of British detectives arrived in Islamabad on Thursday morning. They were received by officials of the British High Commission and whisked away amidst tight security.
A strong police contingent escorted the British team, which refused to talk to waiting journalists.
Pakistani officials said the team would submit a report on its findings in Bhutto's murder to the interior ministry in the coming days.
A group of forensic, computer and explosives experts from the counter-terrorism command of Britain's Metropolitan Police had come to Pakistan on January 4 after president Pervez Musharraf sought Scotland Yard's help to probe Bhutto's assassination.
Bhutto was killed in a suicide attack after addressing an election rally in Rawalpindi on December 27. Musharraf accused Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud of masterminding the assassination, but the militant leader denied the charge through his spokesman.
In January, Pakistani authorities in the northwestern town of Dera Ismail Khan arrested 15-year-old Aitezaz Shah, who claimed he was part of a five-member suicide squad sent by Mehsud to target Bhutto. Authorities are currently trying to corroborate his claims.
The Scotland Yard team spent a little more than two weeks in the country, during which the they visited the site at Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi where Bhutto was attacked, reviewed forensic and technical evidence and questioned eyewitnesses and doctors who treated her. They also reconstructed the attack on Bhutto several times.
Caretaker interior minister Hamad Nawaz Khan has said that the government had asked the British team to submit its report before the February 18 general election. He also said the report would be made public.
According to the terms of the agreement between the British and Pakistani governments, the Scotland Yard team was asked to ascertain the exact cause of Bhutto's death. This had become a matter of controversy after Pakistani authorities initially suggested she had died after striking her head against the sunroof of her armoured vehicle.
The Pakistan People's Party and media reports, however, said she died of bullet wounds. Musharraf later admitted that it was possible that Benazir might have been shot.
The PPP has sought a United Nations-led probe into her death, but the government has rejected this. The PPP also said only a UN-led inquiry would expose the 'hidden hands' behind Bhutto's assassination.
Complete Coverage: Benazir Bhutto Assassinated