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Musharraf denies Bhutto death role

  • Story Highlights
  • Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf gives a rare press conference in English
  • Says assassinated former PM Benazir Bhutto ignored government warnings
  • Defends himself against claims that he had a role in her murder
  • Admits he is not satisfied with the investigation into her death so far
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has said assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto ignored government warnings -- and defended himself against accusations that he had a role in her slaying.

He also admitted Thursday he is not satisfied with the investigation into her death, making his comments to reporters in a rare news conference held in English.

The first question to the Pakistani leader after his 20-minute address dealt with the myriad of conspiracy theories that blame Musharraf's government for helping orchestrate last week's assassination of Bhutto, who led the opposition's push for Musharraf to abandon his role as Pakistan's military leader.

"Frankly, I consider the question below my dignity to answer, but however I would like to answer it," Musharraf told the reporter from Britain's Sky News.

"I'm not a feudal and I'm not a tribal -- I have been brought up in a very educated and civilized family which believes in values, which believes in principles, which believes in character.

"My family, by any imagination, is not a family which believes in killing people, assassinating, intriguing. And that is all there I want to say."

Later, he accused Bhutto of "ignoring" warnings from the government and detailed the security provided to the former prime minister in Liaquat Bagh, the Rawalpindi park where she was killed last week. See timeline of how Pakistan's crisis developed »

"She was informed of the threat to her, the first time about three to four weeks back when she wanted to the same place," Musharraf said. "The intelligence agencies knew there was a threat and we told her not to go. ...

"So therefore she went on her own volition, ignoring the threat."

The park, often a place for political gatherings, is named after Pakistan's first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, who was assassinated in 1951.

More than 1,000 police were patrolling the park where Bhutto's convoy passed last Thursday, and government snipers patrolled each building's rooftop, Musharraf said. Bhutto was traveling in a bulletproof vehicle, and had handpicked the head of her security detail, he said.

Musharraf pointed out that no one else in the vehicle was injured when gunshots rang out, followed by suicide blast that killed nearly two dozen people in the crowd.

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"Nobody gets hurt (inside the car), only she when she ... decides to rise above the sunroof," he said.

He asked reporters to consider what he would have to gain from any role in assassination.

"Anyone who wants to assassinate or do anything of this kind must weigh pros and cons," he said " Would I ... be the maximum gainer or is there somebody else here who could gain more? So this is another element that I leave to your judgment."

He expressed his dissatisfaction with the way investigators immediately cleaned the area where Bhutto was killed, possibly wiping away key forensic evidence.

"It's unnecessary. It shouldn't have been done," Musharraf said. "But if you are meaning that they did it by design to hide evidence -- no. Photo See photos that could hold clues to assassination »

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"It is just inefficiency ... on the part of these people who think that things have to be cleared and the road has to be cleared and traffic has to go through.

"But certainly I'm sure that they didn't do it with an intention of hiding some secrets or that the intelligence agencies ... had instructed them to hide this. No, I don't believe that." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Pakistani PoliticsBenazir BhuttoPervez MusharrafNawaz Sharif

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