UN likely to extend Bhutto investigation

AP News
Posted: Dec 14, 2009 7:23 PM

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday he is "positively considering" a request to extend a U.N. investigation into the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto for an additional three months.

The six-month mandate of the three-member commission Ban appointed to determine the facts and circumstances of Bhutto's death expires at the end of December.

The secretary-general said Chile's U.N. Ambassador Heraldo Munoz, who heads the commission, requested another three months.

"They need more time to continue their investigation," Ban said. "I think this is reasonable. And I am positively considering extending it for another three months."

Bhutto was killed in a Dec. 27, 2007 gun-and-suicide-bomb attack as she was leaving a rally in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, where she was campaigning to return her Pakistan People's Party to power in parliamentary elections.

The government at the time of Bhutto's murder, led by President Pervez Musharraf, blamed Baitullah Mehsud, a Pakistani militant commander with reported links to al-Qaida. CIA officials also said Mehsud was the chief suspect.

But Bhutto's party repeatedly hinted that Musharraf or his allies were involved and demanded a U.N. probe, claiming it was the only way the whole truth would be revealed.

The commission will submit its report to the secretary-general and the U.N. said he will share it with the Pakistani government and the U.N. Security Council.

The United Nations has stressed that determining criminal responsibility for Bhutto's assassination remains with the Pakistani authorities.