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Revealed: Pakistan hosed away scene after Bhutto attack
John Byrne
Published: Saturday December 29, 2007

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May have violated law by skipping autopsy

Despite official reports by Pakistan's interior ministry claiming that the government had intercepted congratulatory messages sent by al Qaeda surrounding the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, a motley of strange occurrences has sparked new suspicion of the government's official story.

On Friday, doctors at Rawalpindi General Hospital, where she died, said that Bhutto had been killed by shrapnel to the head from an explosion, not by two bullets that Bhutto supporters cited in the aftermath of the attack. Bhutto, 54, was killed as in the aftermath of a shooting and suicide bombing as she left a political rally in the city of Rawalpindi.

The government soon changed their story, saying she'd been killed by hitting the sunroof of her LandCruiser after she'd stood up to wave to a crowd. Doctors said there were no bullet marks on the former prime minister's body, and released a limited x-ray of what they said was her skull.

More alarming, however, to Bhutto supporters was the fact no autopsy was conducted prior to burial. The official line -- according to Pakistan's interim prime minister Mohammadmian Soomro -- was that Bhutto's husband had insisted no autopsy be performed.

But according to veteran lawyer Athar Minallah who spoke to McClatchy Newspapers Friday, "an autopsy is mandatory under Pakistan's criminal law in a case of this nature."

"It is absurd, because without autopsy it is not possible to investigate," Minallah told McClatchy's Saeed Shah and Warren Strobel in a little publicized piece. "Is the state not interested in reaching the perpetrators of this heinous crime or there was a cover-up?"

Autopsies are generally not conducted in Islam unless ordered by a court, because the religion calls for burial as quickly as possible. It's unclear whether Bhutto's circumstances would have warranted an exception.

According to the reporters, "the scene of the attack also was watered down with a high-pressure hose within an hour, washing away evidence."

Shah, who reported from the scene Thursday, wrote in a second piece that police rangers charged with protecting her "abandoned their posts" shortly before the bombing, leaving just a handful of Bhutto's own bodyguards protecting her.

"Police officers had frisked the 3,000 to 4,000 people attending Thursday's rally when they entered the park, but as the speakers from Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party droned on, the police abandoned many of their posts," Shah wrote. "As she drove out through the gate, her main protection appeared to be her own bodyguards, who wore their usual white T-shirts inscribed: 'Willing to die for Benazir.'"

Some of Bhutto's supporters were suspect of the "sunroof theory."

A "senior official" of Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party called the claim "false," saying he'd seen at least two bullet marks on her body after the attack.

"It was a targeted, planned killing," BPP's Babar Awan said. "The firing was from more than one side."

Another newspaper also asserted witnesses saw her shot.

Multiple reports said Bhutto had shown disregard for her personal safety by waving to the crowd.

"In her enthusiasm, she got carried away, and exposed herself in ways" she shouldn't have, a former State Department official told Shah.

Pakistan indicated Saturday it would delay January elections because of turmoil caused by Bhutto's death. Protests and looting have left at least 38 people dead.

Updated to include background on autopsies as regards Islam.



 
 


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