Zardari was present during Musharraf’s ‘disturbing call’ to Benazir: Siegel

Malik Asad
ISLAMABAD: US lobbyist Mark Siegel, a much-awaited witness in the Benazir Bhutto murder case, has testified that Asif Ali Zardari was also present in the office of a US congressman where the late Ms Bhutto received a “threatening call” from former president retired General Pervez Musharraf.

Testifying before a Rawalpindi Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC), Mr Siegel verified the statement which the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had included in the joint investigation team report.

Mr Siegel claimed that on Sept 25, 2007, Ms Bhutto received a telephone call — in his presence — in the office of Congressman Tom Lantos in Washington DC, which she later described as “a very bad call” from Gen Musharraf.

“She was shivering, trembling and terrified after taking the call,” Mr Siegel claimed.

Prosecutor says testimony crucial to building a case against former military ruler
The lobbyist surprised many present in the court when he said that Ms Bhutto was accompanied by Mr Zardari when she came to Congressman Lanton’s office.

Defence lawyers got another surprise when they saw Farooq H. Naek sitting next to Mr Siegel, as his advocate.

Mr Siegel said that the former military ruler had warned Ms Bhutto that “her safety depends on the state of our (Musharraf and Benazir’s) relationship.”

According to Mr Siegel, Ms Bhutto sent him an email on Oct 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 Gen Musharraf on Oct 16, 2007.

In the letter, Ms Bhutto had named retired Brigadier Ejaz Shah, retired Lt-Gen Hameed Gul and former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.

During his statement via video link, Gen Musharraf’s counsel Ilyas Siddiqui objected when Mr Siegel referred to certain findings of the UN commission report on the death of Ms Bhutto, saying that the UN Commission report was not part of court record, nor had Mr Siegel mentioned it in his earlier statement.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Siddiqui said there were marked differences between Mr Siegel’s previous and current statements and alleged that he had given a statement that suited the PPP’s senior leadership.

He pointed to the fact that Mr Siegel was represented by Farooq Naek, who had not only held the post of Senate chairman under the PPP, but also represented Mr Zardari in corruption references.

Khawaja Imtiaz Ahmed, the FIA special prosecutor, said on the other hand that the statement of Mr Siegel had strengthened the case against Gen Musharraf.

He confirmed that Gen Musharraf had warned Ms Bhutto not to come to Pakistan before the 2008 general elections.

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.

The prosecution may now call former interior minister Rehman Malik to corroborate Mr Siegel’s statement, a senior prosecutor said.

October 2nd, 2015
Source: Dawn

By Editor

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