Here’s a roundup of news on the assassination death of Benazir Bhutto.
McClatchy: As deadly protests continued to rage on Pakistan’s streets, the country’s Interior Ministry said that Bhutto — buried Friday without an autopsy — had died after she was thrown against the lever of her car’s sunroof, fracturing her skull.
Initially, the government had said that flying shrapnel killed Bhutto, 54, after a shooting and suicide bombing as she left a political rally in the city of Rawalpindi.
The Australian: Ms Bhutto, 54, began her day meeting party leaders to plan the campaign for parliamentary elections, scheduled for January 8 but now thrown into doubt. Backed by the US, she had hoped to win a third term as prime minister, restoring democratic rule after President Pervez Musharraf’s resignation as army chief last month.
After talking tactics with senior aides, she met Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the end of his two-day visit to Pakistan. Ms Bhutto told Mr Karzai that if elected again, she would work with him to fight the Taliban and al-Qa’ida militants who are sheltering in northwestern Pakistan and who have repeatedly threatened to kill her.
Muhammed Salman, a senior member of the PPP, said he was standing a few dozen metres from her vehicle when he heard the blast.
“When I turned around there were lots of people lying dead in the roads,” he said. “I thought our vehicle had left safely and that she would be safe. Then I got back to the hotel and realised what had happened.”
Other witnesses gave conflicting accounts as shocked bystanders and emergency workers carried the dead and injured from the blast site. In the confusion, party officials originally said that Ms Bhutto had escaped unhurt. But within minutes they announced she had been wounded and was in surgery, and half an hour later a PPP official, Rehman Malik, broke the news of her death.
Huffington Post has slides of skull x-rays purported to be from Ms Bhutto.
The Raw Story: 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.”
Excite News: The disputes were sure to further enflame the violence and have led to calls for an international, independent investigation into the attack.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that an international probe was vital because there was “no reason to trust the Pakistani government,” while others called for a U.N. investigation.
Cheema dismissed the suggestion.
“This is not an ordinary criminal matter in which we require assistance of the international community. I think we are capable of handling it,” he said. An independent judicial investigation should be completed within seven days of the appointment of its presiding judge, he said….
The government blamed the attack on Baitullah Mehsud, head of the Tehrik-i-Taliban, a newly formed coalition of Islamic militants along the Afghan border believed to be linked to al-Qaida and committed to waging holy war against the government.
But a spokesman for Mehsud, Maulana Mohammed Umer, dismissed the allegations as “government propaganda.”
“We strongly deny it. Baitullah Mehsud is not involved in the killing of Benazir Bhutto,” he said in a telephone call he made to The Associated Press from the tribal region of South Waziristan. “The fact is that we are only against America, and we don’t consider political leaders of Pakistan our enemy.”
Bhutto’s aides said they, too, doubted Mehsud was involved and accused the government of a cover-up.
“The story that al-Qaida or Baitullah Mehsud did it appears to us to be a planted story, an incorrect story, because they want to divert the attention,” said Farhatullah Babar, a spokesman for Bhutto’s party.
And finally, this interesting bit…
Authorities initially said Bhutto died from bullet wounds. A surgeon who treated her later said the impact from shrapnel on her skull killed her.
But Cheema said Friday that Bhutto was killed when the shockwaves from the bomb smashed her head into the sunroof as she tried to duck back inside the vehicle.
Bhutto’s spokeswoman Sherry Rehman, who was in the vehicle that rushed her boss to the hospital, disputed that.
“She was bleeding profusely, as she had received a bullet wound in her neck. My car was full of blood. Three doctors at the hospital told us that she had received bullet wounds. I was among the people who gave her a final bath. We saw a bullet wound in the back of her neck,” she said. “What the government is saying is actually dangerous and nonsensical. They are pouring salt on our wounds. There are no findings, they are just lying.”
Cheema stood by the government’s version of events, and said Bhutto’s party was free to exhume her body for an autopsy.
What a disgusting and transparent spectacle. Will there be justice for Benazir Bhutto?