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Scotland Yard Team Briefs Musharraf on Bhutto Murder Probe

A team of forensic experts from Britain's Scotland Yard briefed Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on their ongoing efforts to help with the probe into the assassination of former prime minister and opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins in Islamabad has more.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf told a six-member team from Britain's Scotland Yard it has complete freedom to carry out an investigation into the December 27 assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

The interior ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema told reporters Mr. Musharraf assured the Scotland Yard team, which arrived in the country last week, no one would interfere in its investigation.

Respected Pakistani political analyst Talat Masood says the murder of the popular Ms. Bhutto will haunt the country for years to come.

"This case is never going to close. And I tell you that it will haunt the government and the country for years to come," Talat said. "People will not be satisfied, they have no trust in the government anymore, even if it does all the right things. So that is why they are calling for this independent U.N. commission."

Bhutto supporters have called repeatedly for an independent U.N. commission to investigate the assassination.

Ms. Bhutto was killed while campaigning in the garrison town of Rawalpindi on December 27. Her death led to three days of rioting that claimed the lives of more than 50 people and cost millions of dollars worth of damage.

The government blames Ms. Bhutto's assassination on Islamic militants linked to al-Qaida, a charge the militants deny.

Television footage of the assassination shows a gunman firing three shots to the back of Ms. Bhutto's head, then her hair and veil lifts up and she slumps down in her car, where she had been standing in the sunroof to wave to her supporters. Immediately following this is a suicide bomb blast.

The government initially said Ms. Bhutto died from the blast shock, which caused her to hit her head on the lever of her sunroof.

Ms. Bhutto's supporters say she was killed by a gunshot to the head and blame elements within the government for her death.

Political analyst Masood says Ms. Bhutto's death has weakened Mr. Musharraf, who came to power in 1999 after leading a coup.

"I think his position has been weakened by all these events and I think the murder of Benazir Bhutto was a major setback for him, as well as for the country," Masood said. "It only goes to show how casually and how callously they treated the security and other aspects of Benazir Bhutto."

Ms. Bhutto had complained of lack of security before her death, and said elements within the government were trying to kill her, a charge the government denies.