RAWALPINDI: Former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf has challenged US lobbyist Mark Siegel’s allegations that he had threatened the late Benazir Bhutto in a phone call made to her while she was planning to return to the country after an eight-year self-imposed exile.
An Anti-Terrorism Court in Rawalpindi admitted for hearing on Wednesday a petition filed by Barrister Farogh Naseem on behalf of the former military stronman, which asked the court to declare Siegel’s testimony unlawful.
Musharraf said in the petition that the testimony was recorded in violation of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) as no judicial officer was present while Siegel testified.
He also objected to Farooq H. Naek sitting next to Siegel as his advocate while he testified.
The petition maintained that Siegel’s testimony lacked transparency and did not meet the requirements of the CrPC.
After accepting the petition for hearing, the court deferred Siegel’s cross-examination by Musharraf’s counsel via video link — which was scheduled for 7:30pm today.
While also issuing a notice to Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) prosecutor, ATC adjourned the hearing till Nov 11.
Siegel had recorded his statement before an ATC on Oct 1, where he had connected Gen Musharraf with Ms Bhutto’s murder on the basis that the former military ruler, despite imminent threats to her life, deliberately deprived Bhutto of the security detail, which she deserved being a former prime minister.
In his statement, the lobbyist had claimed that PPP sought permission from Gen Musharraf to bring foreign security personnel with Bhutto and asked for vehicles with tinted glass, but both requests were rejected.
Musharraf had earlier rejected Siegel’s allegations, terming his testimony ‘despicable’.
“I strongly and unequivocally reject the claim of Mark Siegel, a close adviser, paid lobbyist and co-author of the last book of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto,” he had said in a statement.
“I am shocked and amazed at Mr Siegel’s assertion that I made a threatening phone call to Ms Bhutto. This claim is entirely false, fictitious and appears to be wilfully fabricated.”
Mark Siegel is the fourth prosecution witness against Gen Musharraf. Two witnesses, former interior secretary Kamal Shah and the former National Crisis Management Cell director general did not support the prosecution’s case. The third witness, former Intelligence Bureau director general Ejaz Shah, was dropped by the prosecution.