Pak to extend jurisdiction of Scotland Yard

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Islamabad, Jan 24: Pakistan is considering to broaden the scope of the probe by Scotland Yard into the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto which was earlier limited to only finding the cause of her death.

According to the government, the foreign experts who have returned to the UK with ''whatever evidences were available'' will be allowed to investigate the case ''from all angles'' to unveil the culprits involved in Ms Bhutto's murder, local media reports said today. The Scotland Yard team which will come back to Pakistan on January 27 will be free to investigate the case, Dawn quoted Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema as saying.

However, according to the working arrangements agreed between Pakistan and the UK, the Scotland Yard team could assist local investigators in the case to ''know the cause of her death''. The primacy and responsibility for the investigation remains with Pakistani authorities.

Now, when the British experts have been asked to submit their report before forthcoming general elections on February 18, the Interior Ministry spokesman said: ''The British investigators were not confined to only determine the cause of Ms Bhutto's death and it depends on them to also investigate the case and unveil the persons involved in the assassination.'' ''Yes we have asked them to complete the investigation before holding of the elections,'' caretaker Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz said.

It would be better for all if they complete the probe before the polls, he added.

A total of eight experts of Scotland Yard have been probing the case. Five forensic experts of the team, after collecting evidences, had left Pakistan in the second week of this month while the other three flew back on January 16.

Four members of the Scotland Yard team will return to Pakistan on January 27.

According to the sources the Scotland Yard team would interrogate 15-year-old Aitzaz Shah, one of the two suspects allegedly connected with the assassination plot. He is being kept in a high security lock-up and interrogated exclusively by CID officers.

The source said CID officials were likely to record statements of Rawalpindi police officers and scrutinise the security plan for December 27.

The Scotland Yard's team had gone back to the UK, leaving behind two liaison officers in Islamabad. The four returning investigators are expected to bring back some vital piece of evidence.

The British investigators would again recreate the crime scene outside the Liaquat Bagh, where Benazir was assassinated, to help in their investigations.

Aitzaz Shah and his militant ''handler'' Sher Zaman were arrested from Dera Ismail Khan last week.


UNI

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