by Nuzhat Nazar
ISLAMABAD: The US lobbyist, Mark Siegel, a close friend of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, finally testified in the Benazir Bhutto murder case on Thursday before an anti-terrorism court (ATC) through a video link from New York.
In his statement Siegel claimed that Asif Ali Zardari was also present at the office of US Congressman Tom Lantos where she received a ‘threatening’ call from the then President Pervez Musharraf.
Testifying before an ATC especially set up at the office of Commissioner Rawalpindi to record his statement via a video link, Siegel claimed that on September 25, 2007, in his presence at the office of Congressman Tom Lantos in Washington, Benazir Bhutto received a telephone call, which she later described as “a very bad call” from General Pervez Musharraf.
“She was shivering, trembling and terrified, after the receipt of the call,” Siegel claimed, adding that Benazir Bhutto was accompanied by her husband Asif Ali Zardari when she came to the office of Congressman Lanton.
Siegel was represented by Farooq H. Naek sitting next to him. Siegel said the then military ruler had warned Benazir Bhutto that “her safety depends on the state of their [Musharraf’s and Benazir’s] relationship.”
According to Siegel, Benazir sent him an email on October 26, 2007, in which she expressed her sense of insecurity. She also said that if something happened to her, she would hold the military ruler responsible, apart from the individuals mentioned in her letter to General Musharraf on October 16, 2007.
In the letter, she had named Brigadier Ejaz Shah (Retd), Lieutenant General Hameed Gul (Retd) and the then Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi. While recording the statement through a video link from New York, when Siegel referred to some findings of the UN Commission report on the death of Bhutto, Ilyas Siddiqui, the counsel for General Musharraf, objected and said that neither the UN Commission’s report was part of the court’s record nor the lobbyist had mentioned it its earlier statement; therefore, he cannot refer to the said report.
It may be mentioned that Mark Siegel is the fourth witness the prosecution implicated against General Musharraf. Two witnesses namely former secretary interior Kamal Shah and former director general National Crisis Management Cell, according to defence counsel, did not support the prosecution’s case. The third witness, the former director general intelligence bureau Ejaz Shah, was dropped by the prosecution. The prosecution may call former interior minister Rehman Malik to corroborate the statement of Siegel, said a senior prosecutor.
Source: Business Recorder