On the hosing down of the crime scene
133. Sources informed the Commission that CPO Saud Aziz did not act independently in deciding to hose down the crime scene. One source, speaking on the basis of anonymity, stated that CPO Saud Aziz had confided in him that he had received a call from Army Headquarters instructing him to order the hosing down of the crime scene. Another source, also speaking on the basis of anonymity, said that the CPO was ordered to hose down the scene by Major General Nadeem Ijaz Ahmad, then Director General of MI. Others, including three police officials, told the Commission that CPO Saud Aziz did not act independently and that “everyone knows” who ordered the hosing down. However, they were not willing to state on the record what it is that “everyone knows”. This is one of the many occasions during the Commission’s inquiry when individuals, including government officials, expressed fear or hesitation to speak openly.
134. Some senior Pakistani police officials identified further factors suggesting that CPO Saud Aziz was not acting independently. They point out that, while the deliberate hosing down of a scene is unheard of in police practice, it has occurred on a few occasions, in each case when the military has been the target of such attacks and the crime scene was managed by the military directly. Even CPO Saud Aziz, when asserting to the Commission that there were precedents for hosing down a crime scene, acknowledged that all the incidents which he posited as precedents actually involved a military target. The police officials who point out this pattern saw it as further indication that the military was involved in having the crime scene hosed
On the cleaning of evidence from BB’s Land Cruiser
142. Ms Bhutto’s Land Cruiser was initially taken to the City Police Station by Inspector Kashif Riaz some time after midnight early on 28 December and then taken to Police Lines. 5 In the early hours of 28 December, CPO Saud Aziz went to see the Police Lines, together with others, including ISI officers, who were the first to conduct a forensic examination of the vehicle. An investigating police officer on the orders of the CPO, removed Ms Bhutto’s shoes and took them to the City Police Station. Sometime thereafter, the shoes were ordered back into the car. This was
clearly interfering with the integrity of the evidence. Furthermore, while the vehicle was parked at Police Lines, it was not properly preserved. The Commission was told that during a visit by some JIT members, people were seen in the vehicle cleaning it even though investigations were still on-going. When the JIT carried out its physical examination of the vehicle, they did not find any hair, blood or other matter on the lip of the escape hatch. Forensic analysis of swabs of the lip of the escape hatch later carried out by the JIT and Scotland Yard also found nothing. It is impossible to establish whether the interference with the vehicle resulted in the elimination of any matter that may have been present on the lip, or whether there was no such matter in
the first place. It is clear, however, that such interference would have damaged any forensic evidence present.
On Saud Aziz blaming Zardari for his not allowing the autopsy
147. It is odd that Ms Bhutto’s remains were moved to the Pakistan Air Force base (Chaklala Airbase) in Rawalpindi before Mr Zardari’s arrival from Dubai. According to sources, the body was taken from the hospital around 2300 hours, on 27 December. The note signed by Mr Zardari accepting his wife’s remains is timed 0110 hours on 28 December. If the police were genuinely waiting for Mr Zardari’s permission before requesting a post- mortem examination, they should have left Ms Bhutto’s remains at the hospital. Instead they moved her remains to Chaklala Airbase, thereby rendering such an examination more difficult. When questioned about this, senior Punjab officials stated that the plan was to carry out the examination at the base which also had medical facilities. However, the fact that Ms Bhutto’s coffin was not taken to the medical facilities, but placed in a room at the base makes this assertion doubtful.
148. There was a series of memos from CPO Saud Aziz and his superiors regarding the absence of a post- mortem examination. The CPO wrote a memo to his immediate superior, the IGP of Punjab, dated 27 December, but actually written in the morning of 28 December, in which he reported that an autopsy could not be conducted because her husband had refused to authorize one. The IGP then sent a memo, also dated 27 December (and written on 28 December), to the Home Secretary of Sindh Province reporting Mr Zardari’s refusal and suggesting that the matter be taken up by the Home Department of Sind h Province. On 28 December, a letter was written from the Punjab Additional Secretary, Internal Security, to the Sindh Home Secretary, requesting that the latter seek Mr Zardari’s permission to conduct a post- mortem examination on Ms Bhutto’s remains prior to burial.
149. The Commission finds the letter written by CPO Saud Aziz to be fundamentally misleading. Nothing in the letter explains why the autopsy had not been carried out earlier, during the preceding five hours while Ms Bhutto’s remains were at RGH. Rather, the letter focuses solely on Mr Zardari’s refusal to approve an autopsy – and portrays even that refusal in misleading terms. The letter is clearly intended to hide CPO Saud Aziz’s fundamental failure to carry out his legal obligation regarding the autopsy and, instead, to redirect blame for this failure to Mr Zardari. The effort to pin responsibility for this failure on Mr Zardari is unacceptable. No autopsy had been carried out even though five hours had passed since Ms Bhutto had been declared
dead. The body had been placed in a coffin and brought to the PAF airbase. CPO Saud Aziz placed Mr Zardari in an impossible situation – one which almost compelled Mr Zardari to refuse the request for an autopsy.
150. The subsequent letter by the IGP, Punjab reiterating the misleading summary of events set out in CPO Saud Aziz’s letter reflects the willingness of his administrative superior to further this shift of responsibility and perpetrate a cover- up of the true reason behind the lack of a post-mortem examination.
151. In short, CPO Saud Aziz did not fulfil his legal obligation to order an autopsy. Having failed in that regard, he sought to cover up his failing by putting Mr Zardari in a situation designed to elicit his refusal of an autopsy. CPO Saud Aziz’s further effort to cover his failings by writing a memo pinning blame on Mr Zardari was highly improper. On their face, these factors taken together strongly suggest a preconceived effort to prevent a thorough examination of Ms Bhutto’s remains.
152. CPO Saud Aziz, an experienced senior police officer, refused to allow a post-mortem examination. He certainly knew the requirements of the law and the practice of law enforcement in such cases. He need not have waited for Mr Zardari. He was, furthermore, aware of the importance and status of the person involved. All these factors together support the view held by many Pakistanis that CPO Saud Aziz did not act independently in this matter. CPO Saud Aziz’s insistence on justifying his actions has made it difficult for the Commission to inquire any further and attempt to unearth who might have been behind the decision.
On the interference with JIT’s investigation
162. The JIT was headed by Mr Abdul Majeed, Additional IG (AIG) for Punjab. In addition to police officials from Punjab, the JIT included three senior members of the FIA, including an explosives expert, a senior CID police officer at the rank of DIG, an expert on forensic photography and nine middle ranking police officers. At the time the JIT was established, AIG Majeed was out of the country and, for the first two days, the JIT was headed by the next most senior police officer on the team, the DIG/CID in Lahore, Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera. DIG Sukhera and his team started work on 28 December 2007.
163. On the evening of 28 December, members of the JIT went to Police Lines where they met CPO Saud Aziz. Rather than proceeding directly to the crime site, The FIA was established under The FIA Act 1975. It has powers to investigate all offences that are set out in the Schedule to the Act, including terrorism. Expertise in the investigation of terrorism cases rests with the Special Investigation Group (SIG) within the FIA. The SIG was established after 11 September 2001 and became operational in April 2003.
CPO Saud Aziz laid out tea for the JIT investigators in a conference room. While the JIT members were still in the conference room, the television aired the press conference given by Brigadier Cheema. According to a credible source, at the end of the press conference, the CPO rhetorically asked the JIT members what they intended to investigate, since the perpetrator had been identified. When the JIT members pressed to visit the crime scene, CPO Saud Aziz, noting that it was already dark, stated instead that he would arrange for a visit to the scene in the morning. The source noted above interpreted these actions as a means of hindering the JIT investigators’ access to the crime site.
164. On 29 December, the following day, the JIT investigators returned to Police Lines where they were able to inspect Ms Bhutto’s vehicle. They discovered early in their inspection that there was no blood or tissue on the escape hatch lever that would be consistent with the gaping injury to Ms Bhutto’s head, suggesting strongly to the investigators that Ms Bhutto had not hit her head on the lever.
165. Following that inspection, rather than taking the investigators directly to the crime scene, CPO Saud Aziz hosted a lunch that went into the late afternoon, at the end of which he again, according to the same source cited above, indicated that it would be dark by the time the team arrived at the crime scene. It was only at around 1700 hours that the JIT investigators were taken to the crime scene at Liaquat Bagh. The Commission finds it inexplicable that the investigators were not in a position to conduct on-site investigations until two full days after the assassination. Such conduct further hampered the gathering of evidence and, at the very least, was contrary to best practices.
166. Once at the scene, the investigators could see that it had been hosed down. Despite the late hour, they spent seven hours there. They followed the water current, including wading through the drainage sewer and collected evidence from the debris. They were able to recover one bullet casing from the drainage sewer, later established through forensic examination to have been fired from the pistol bearing the bomber’s DNA. The JIT members left the scene around midnight. The Rawalpindi police provided security for them, and the road was cordoned off during the entire time. The next day, the team returned to continue the search. Upon their request, the scene remained cordoned off and the road closed. They eventually recovered other evidence in the course of their crime scene examination, including the partial skull of the suicide bomber from atop one of the buildings near the site.
167. On 31 December, AIG Majeed returned from his trip and took over the leadership of the JIT. This change at the JIT’s helm result ed in a shift in the internal dynamics of the investigation. Mr Majeed effectively sidelined the senior and more experienced officers who had started the investigations and dealt directly with the most junior investigators of the JIT. Two senior officers invited into the JIT from the Sindh police decided to return to Sindh after only two days with the JIT. Much of the work carried out by the JIT from this point was led by information Mr Majeed received from the intelligence agencies, which retained sole control over the sharing of information with the police, providing it on a selective basis
On the harmful effects on the investigation of Brigadier Cheema’s premature assignment of blame in his infamous press conference
The Government press conference conducted by Brigadier Cheema on 28 December 2007, the day after the assassination, was ordered by General
Musharraf. The Government’s assertion that Ms Bhutto’s death was caused when she hit her head on the lever of her vehicle’s escape hatch and that
Baitullah Mehsud and Al-Qaida were responsible for the suicide bomber were made well before any proper investigation had been initiated. This action pre-
empted, prejudiced and hindered the subsequent investigation.
On whether Saud Aziz was acting alone or was directed by a higher authority
The Commission is persuaded that the Rawalpindi police chief, CPO Saud Aziz, did not act independently of higher authorities, either in the decision to hose down the crime scene or to impede the post-mortem examination.