Pakistani investigators probing the 2007 assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto have obtained two BlackBerry mobile phones she was using at the time of her death, marking an important breakthrough in the probe.
The phones were found at Bilawal House, the Bhutto family's residence in Karachi, by its staff.
They were handed over to a special team of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) but neither the investigators nor a spokesman for Bilawal House could say why it took three years for the phones to be found and handed over to authorities.
An official at Bilawal House told the media the phones were "voluntarily" handed over to the FIA and had been sent for forensic analysis.
Media reports quoted sources in the FIA as saying that the phone were recovered from a servant at Bilawal House.
However, an unnamed close aide of Bhutto, who was with her shortly before she was killed by a suicide attacker in Rawalpindi in December 2007, told the Dawn newspaper that she had only one BlackBerry at the time of her assassination.
"As far as I know, she had only one BlackBerry and used it only for text messaging and not for voice calls," the aide was quoted as saying.
He said Bhutto sent some messages from her vehicle while travelling from Islamabad to Rawalpindi, where she addressed her last public meeting.
FIA sources contended that the phones were being used by Abdul Razzaq, a servant of President Asif Ali Zardari in Bilawal House.
The FIA believes it will be able to glean some clues from the information contained in the BlackBerry sets. The phones will help investigators to ascertain who had last called Bhutto and the last person she had called.
The phones may also help investigators ascertain if Bhutto received a call after leaving the venue of her public meeting and if the caller had asked her to emerge through her vehicle's sunroof and wave to supporters.
"The findings of the forensic examination (of the phones) will be shared with the Interior Ministry," FIA chief Waseem Ahmed told Dawn.
Officials of Bilawal House were unable to explain why they had not handed over the phones to authorities when investigators had declared they were missing.
Pak Probe Team Gets Hold of Benazir's Key Mobiles
Rezaul H Laskar/Islamabad
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