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Will autopsy on Benazir's body become necessary?
Dec 31, 2007 - 5:44:45 PM

Islamabad, Dec 31 - The body of Pakistan's slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto may need to be exhumed for an autopsy if the government allows international experts to institute a probe into her assassination.

Bhutto died after gunshots and a suicide bombing Thursday evening following a public rally at Rawalpindi's Liaquat Bagh. Though there was no autopsy carried out on her body, the procedure might become necessary now with her Pakistan Peoples Party - demanding a probe by an international team of investigators.

'No investigation will be possible without an autopsy of the body,' said an official here, adding that the government was in touch with international experts who insist on an 'expert autopsy report' to start investigations.

President Pervez Musharraf had said Sunday said that the government would consider a probe by international experts as the PPP had announced a three-member team to talk to the UN to force its hand to do so.

The government has also said it was ready to exhume the body if the PPP agrees to it. Officials said no post mortem was conducted because her husband Asif Ali Zardari.

Zardari gave his reason to journalists at a press conference in Larkana on Sunday: 'I know the way hospitals treat body while conducting the post mortem, I did not want desecration of wife.'

The question of autopsy has gained importance with the mystery around the assassination deepening.

Government spokesperson Javed Iqbal Cheema has been saying that Bhutto died after fracturing her head with the sunroof lever of her Toyota Land Cruiser. But the eyewitnesses and PPP leaders say she was hit by a bullet before falling into the jeep.

One eyewitness, Asif Ali, said he saw the gunman aiming and shooting at Bhutto.

'I was a couple of meters away from the vehicle when I saw gunman aiming and shooting at Benazir Bhutto. He was a clean-shaven man in his 30s,' Ali, a resident of downtown Rawalpindi, told IANS.

Pakistani television channels have also played new images providing evidence that she was fired upon thrice. The video filmed by an unknown person shows Bhutto visible from the sunroof of her Land Cruiser among a few hundred supporters after addressing the rally.

A clean-shaven man with sunglasses is shown with his hand in his pocket. The man is followed by a person with a white shawl, suspected to be the suicide bomber who blew himself seconds later. The sniper moves closer to the vehicle and fires three shots while Bhutto is waving to the crowd.

Three gunshots can be clearly heard followed by the sound of the blast, which killed 20 people.

As the gunman fires, Bhutto can be seen falling inside the vehicle through the sunroof.

Bhutto's close associate Sherry Rehman, who supervised the last bath on Bhutto's body, said that she saw very clear marks of bullet on her head. Zardari also told reporters that his doctor sister saw the bullet wounds on her head.

Political analysts here say that the government has tailored the sunroof lever story to cover up the massive security failure.

The surgeon who treated Bhutto Thursday evening first said she was shot twice in the head and neck. But the next day the hospital changed its earlier statement saying no bullet wounds were found in her head.

Bhutto's political secretary Naheed Khan who was in the jeep described the government claim as 'stupid, ridiculous and dangerous cover-up'.

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