U.N. Report Claims Pakistani Military Bungled Bhutto Murder Probe

Report says Pakistani military failed to protect Benazir Bhutto.

April 16, 2010— -- The 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto by a 15-year-old suicide bomber, "could have been prevented" by Pakistan's security establishment, according to the report by the United Nations.

The harshly worded report accuses Pakistan's intelligence community of ignoring threats to Bhutto, failing to protect her, botching crime-scene evidence and hampering an investigation to find suspects linked to her death.

The 65 page document goes on to accuse to a lesser extent, former President Pervez Musharraf, the police, and Benazir's own camp of supporters for the series of events that lead to the leader's killing.

Bhutto, a former Pakistani prime minister was killed on Dec. 27, 2007, after a political rally in Rawalpindi just days after she returned to the country after a self-imposed, 9 year exile.

Bhutto died during a suicide-bomb and gunfire attack. As leader of the Pakistan People's Party, Bhutto's death was mourned throughout the country.

The three person commission was appointed by U.N. Secretary General Bank Ki Moon to investigate some of the rumors and conspiracy theories flying after Bhutto's death.

Chilean Ambassador Heraldo Munoz, who chaired the commission told reporters at the U.N. on Thursday, the research "was carried out both inside and outside Pakistan and this report reflects results of well over 250 interviews that we conducted along with the examination of hundreds of documents, videos, photographs and other documentary material."

"The responsibility for Ms Bhutto's security on the day of her assassination rested with the federal Government, the government of Punjab and the Rawalpindi District Police. None of these entities took the necessary measures to respond to the extraordinary, fresh and urgent security risks that they knew she faced," the report notes.

Although the report does not name Bhutto's killer, it outlines the clear Bhutto assassination threats the Pakistani government received before her death and goes on to conclude that Pakistan's security forces fell short on even trying to stop them.

Blistering U.N. Report Says Bhutto's Assasination Could Have Been Prevented

"The federal government under General Musharraf, although fully aware of and tracking the serious threats to Ms. Bhutto, did little more than pass on those threats to her and to provincial authorities and were not proactive in neutralizing them or ensuring that the security provided was commensurate to the threats," the report says.

Throughout the document the commission chronicles reluctance from Pakistani officials to thoroughly investigate Bhutto's death. The commission found "the failure of the police to investigate effectively Ms Bhutto's assassination was deliberate."

The commission was "severely hampered by intelligence agencies and other government officials, which impeded an unfettered search for the truth."

Investigating Bhutto's attackers was made more difficult for the commission by the botched police investigation. After the attack, the crime scene was not properly cordoned off, and water was used to hose down the scene, potentially ruining evidence. Key crime scene evidence still available after the hose-down was not properly preserved, compromising its ability to yield clues in the solving of the crime, the report concluded.

"The Commission was mystified by the efforts of certain high- ranking Pakistani government authorities to obstruct access to military and intelligence sources, as revealed in their public declarations."

President Musharraf's spokesperson has fired back at the commission and their accusations of negligence against the Pakistani government. Maj. Gen Rashid Qureshi (ret) called the report a "pack of lies." "This chief U.N. investigator was not the relative of Sherlock Homes."

"There can be no adequate security against a suicide attack. There were two suicide attacks against President Musharraf and he survived because he was inside a bullet proof car. Unfortunately Benazir Bhutto was outside the vehicle," Qureshi said.

The U.N. sanctioned group was not tasked with a criminal investigation, but instead to "carry out a fact-finding inquiry that would be helpful in shedding light on the deeply tragic and traumatizing event for Pakistan and its people," Munoz said.

Blistering U.N. Report Says Bhutto's Assasination Could Have Been Prevented