Pak probe team get hold of Benazir''s key BlackBerry phones

Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Feb 4 (PTI) Pakistani investigators probingthe 2007 assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto haveobtained two BlackBerry mobile phones she was using at thetime of her death, marking an important breakthrough in theprobe.

The phones were found at Bilawal House, the Bhuttofamily''s residence in Karachi, by its staff.

They were handed over to a special team of the FederalInvestigation Agency (FIA) but neither the investigators nor aspokesman for Bilawal House could say why it took three yearsfor the phones to be found and handed over to authorities.

An official at Bilawal House told the media the phoneswere "voluntarily" handed over to the FIA and had been sentfor forensic analysis.

Media reports quoted sources in the FIA as saying thatthe phone were recovered from a servant at Bilawal House.

However, an unnamed close aide of Bhutto, who was withher shortly before she was killed by a suicide attacker inRawalpindi in December 2007, told the Dawn newspaper that shehad only one BlackBerry at the time of her assassination.

"As far as I know, she had only one BlackBerry andused it only for text messaging and not for voice calls," theaide was quoted as saying.

He said Bhutto sent some messages from her vehiclewhile travelling form Islamabad to Rawalpindi, where sheaddressed her last public meeting.

FIA sources contended that the phones were being usedby Abdul Razzaq, a servant of President Asif Ali Zardari inBilawal House.

The FIA believes it will be able to glean some cluesfrom the information contained in the BlackBerry sets. Thephones will help investigators to ascertain who had lastcalled Bhutto and the last person she had called.

The phones may also help investigators ascertain ifBhutto received a call after leaving the venue of her publicmeeting and if the caller had asked her to emerge through hervehicle''s sunroof and wave to supporters.

"The findings of the forensic examination (of thephones) will be shared with the Interior Ministry," FIA chiefWaseem Ahmed told Dawn.

Officials of Bilawal House were unable to explain whythey had not handed over the phones to authorities wheninvestigators had declared they were missing.

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