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UN not to name culprits in Bhutto assassination

world Updated: Jul 17, 2009 22:12 IST
Reuters
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The UN team conducting an inquiry into the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto will not seek to name culprits, the commission's head said on Friday, lowering expectations from the outset.

The three-member team arrived in Pakistan on Thursday for its first visit as part of a probe into the circumstances surrounding the attack that killed Bhutto after an election campaign rally in Rawalpindi city on Dec. 27, 2007.

Conspiracy theories abound over who was behind the assasination, but the head of the commission, Chile's U.N. ambassador Heraldo Munoz, sought to play down expectations about what it would ultimately publish in its findings at the end of December.

"If you think that there will be smoking guns in terms of names, our report is not that," Munoz told reporters in the Pakistani capital.

"We will try to establish the truth....anything else is beyond our realm," he said.
Any criminal investigation will be up to Pakistani authorities, but the commission's findings will hopefully be able to complement the government's efforts, Munoz said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon set up the commission at the request of the coalition government, led by Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

The previous government, headed by allies of former president and army chief Pervez Musharraf, blamed Pakistani Taliban leader and al Qaeda ally Baitullah Mehsud for Bhutto's slaying.

Munoz and his team on Thursday met with Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari, who is now Pakistan's president after leading the PPP to victory in elections in early 2008.

Speculation lingers that Bhutto was the victim of a plot by allies of Musharraf, who did not want her to come to power. Munoz did not rule out attempting to interview Musharraf, but stressed that any cooperation with his team would be voluntary.

"He ... is a prominent figure of recent Pakistani history, and he would probably have important things to say," Munoz said.