RAWALPINDI: American journalist and lobbyist Mark Siegel testified before an anti-terrorism court that former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf had barred former prime minister Benazir Bhutto from coming back to Pakistan, DawnNews reported on Thursday.
This he said while recording his statement with the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi in Benazir Bhutto assassination case via video link from the United States.
Siegel, who was also Benazir's friend, recorded in his statement that “Musharraf had told Benazir her life would be in danger if she returns to Pakistan.”
The American journalist claims he was with the former prime minister on September 25, 2007, when she had received a call from Musharraf “threatening her with dire consequences if she returned to Pakistan.”
In the conversation that followed, Benazir mentioned that it was the former general’s responsibility to provide security to her, said Siegel. “On which Musharraf said to Benazir that provision of security depends on their mutual understanding and relations.”
Siegel further said that Benazir sent him an important email after reaching Pakistan in which she had said “if something happens to her Musharraf should be held responsible for that”.
He claimed that Benazir was shivering after she answered the call from Musharraf, saying that the former general used abusive language during the conversation.
“My last meeting with Benazir was at a hotel in Washington in which she said that Musharraf is threatening her, but she will still travel to Pakistan.”
The American journalist further claimed that Benazir had written a letter to Musharraf in which she mentioned that intelligence agency of a Middle Eastern country intercepted a call from certain Pakistani officials in which they were planning her assassination.
The statement was recorded via video link at the office of Commissioner Rawalpindi Sadiq Zafar Dar in the presence of FIA prosecutor Chaudhary Azhar, counsels for the prosecution and defence — Latif Khosa and Ilyas Siddiqui respectively.
Bhutto was assassinated in a public gathering in a park in Rawalpindi on Dec 27, 2007. Siegel is a key prosecution witness in the case.
Siegel also alleges that the former military strongman knew of the plotting of the assassination, was aware of the timing and personally ordered the destruction of evidence.
Siegel was an adviser and friend of late Benazir Bhutto, and was also a collaborator on her book “Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy and the West,” which completed days before her murder.
The high-profile case has lingered on in courts for almost five years now.