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January 12, 2008

How Is That Hariri Investigation Going, Anyway?

Pervez Musharraf has refused to have the UN investigate the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, according to AFP. In an interview with Le Figaro, the Pakistani president/dictator insists that internal police forces will partner with Britain's Scotland Yard to probe the murder instead. Bhutto's family had called for the UN to lead the investigation:

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has ruled out a United Nations probe into the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto, in an interview with a French newspaper published Saturday.

Musharraf told Le Figaro that UN involvement was out of the question, and that the investigation into Bhutto's murder would be handled internally with the help of British police from Scotland Yard.

Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, and her son Bilawal have both called for a UN inquiry, along the lines of the world body's probe into the killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

Hariri got killed by a massive car bomb in Lebanon almost three years ago. The UN took over the investigation because the Security Council suspected that the Syrian government had conducted the operation. Under those circumstances, when one country is suspected of conducting an act of war against another and both are members of the UN, it made sense for the UN to take over the case.

It makes less sense here, for jurisdictional and pragmatic reasons. No one has shown any evidence that Bhutto's assassination was conducted by another government. In fact, no one has even suggested that, although plenty have suggested that elements within Musharraf's regime may have been complicit in it. The UN does not have "jurisidiction" in any sense over criminal acts not involving conflicts between governments.

Pragmatically, a UN investigation would mean never concluding the case, and the Hariri investigation is a pretty clear example of this. Next month will be the third anniversary of Rafiq Hariri's murder, and the UN has come no closer in determining responsibility for the plot. Syria hasn't cooperated with the investigation, and the UN can hardly enforce subpoenas on high-ranking officials in Damascus. It sounds impressive to have Turtle Bay run the probe, but it means that politics and the lack of enforcement capability will doom it to failure.

The inclusion of Scotland Yard sounds like a better plan. At least they will be free to blow the whistle on any official obstruction that occurs.


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This report should not surprise anyone. I wonder how the leftoids who view al-Qaeda as "freedom fighters" are going to reconcile this murder with their support for democratic reform in Pakistan? BRITISH officials have revealed that evidence amassed by ... [Read More]

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