Pakistan: members of UN probe visit site of Bhutto killing

17 July 2009
Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto

Members of the United Nations team examining the circumstances surrounding the 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto today visited the site in the city of Rawalpindi where the former Pakistani prime minister was killed.

“This was a very important visit for us and we spent a good amount of time there trying to understand more clearly and more fully what happened on that fateful day,” Ambassador Heraldo Muñoz of Chile, who heads the three-member independent Commission of Inquiry, told a news conference in the capital, Islamabad.

Mr. Muñoz and his team also met with senior police officers who were present at the scene of the assassination or were involved in the investigation.

“We have also spoken with other officials who have been involved in investigating the previous attempt on the life of the former prime minister in Karachi,” he stated.

The team held a number of meetings since arriving yesterday for its first working visit to the country, including what Mr. Muñoz described as a “productive” meeting with Ms. Bhutto’s widower and Pakistani President, Asif Ali Zardari, who was accompanied by his three children and several of his ministers.

Members also met with the Ministers of the Interior, Law and Justice, as well as Foreign Affairs, and received a number of briefings from senior officials.

“We are continuing with our activities by gathering more information and getting into contact with a number of individuals and officials that we would like to meet,” said Mr. Muñoz.

He recalled that the mandate of the Commission is to look into the facts and circumstances of the former leader’s assassination, and that the responsibility for investigating the crime and prosecuting the perpetrators remains with the Pakistani authorities.

Mr. Muñoz said the team was confident of the continued support of the Government throughout the fact-finding period, adding that it would also greatly appreciate the “voluntary involvement and engagement” of Pakistanis in this effort.

He added that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon considers the work of the Commission, set up in response to a request by the Pakistani Government, to be one of the UN’s top priorities.

“We are very much aware that this is no ordinary assignment. We have no preconceived ideas about what the outcome of our work will be,” he stated.

The Commission, which began its work on 1 July, will submit a report to Mr. Ban within six months.

 

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