UN commission probes Benazir's death in Pakistan

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Islamabad, July 16 (ANI): The UN commission set up to investigate the assassination of Pakistan's former prime minister Benazir Bhutto opened its first inquiries in Islamabad on Thursday.

The panel met Bhutto's widower, President Asif Ali Zardari, and other senior officials on Thursday, the presidency said.

"We approached the UN because firstly we wanted transparent and above board investigations so there are no accusations of bias," presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar quoted Zardari as telling the UN team.

"We also wanted to unearth any conspiracy to balkanize Pakistan and let the world know how a democratic leader heroically laid down her life.

"We have carried out our own investigations and the findings will be made available to the UN investigators," Babar also quoted Zardari as saying.

Bhutto, the first woman to become prime minister of a Muslim country, was killed in late December 2007 in a gun and suicide attack after addressing an election rally in Rawalpindi.

The government called for a UN inquiry after Bhutto's party won a general election in February 2008 with her supporters angered by conflicting accounts of how she died and who was responsible.

They cast doubt on a Pakistani probe into her death, criticised authorities for hosing down the scene of the attack within minutes-allegedly destroying evidence-and questioning whether she was killed by a gunshot or the blast, The News reported.

The three-member UN panel has been given six months from July 1 to investigate and is due to submit a report by end-December, but the world body stressed Thursday that any criminal investigation would be up to Pakistan.

Headed by the Chilean ambassador to the United Nations, Heraldo Munoz, it includes an Indonesian ex-attorney general and an Irish former police official.

Indonesia's Marzuki Darusman and Ireland's Peter Fitzgerald join Munoz, the head of the UN commission, on the panel. (ANI)

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