KARACHI, Feb 10: An anti-terrorism court in Karachi on Thursday put off hearing of doctor brothers' case after recording statements of the last four defence witnesses.

Dr Azhar Farooqui, chairman, National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, Dr Hafeezur Rahman, former president of the Federation of Islamic Medical Association, and two journalists deposed in the court.

Judge Feroze Mehmood Bhatti, who is conducting trial inside the Central Pirson, fixed Feb 16 for hearing final arguments from prosecution and defence attorneys after statements by defence witnesses, including journalists Riaz Ahmed and Tahir Siddiqui, who were also cross-examined by special public prosecutor.

Dr Farooqui also placed on record a letter from Douglas Mathews, consul at the US Consulate General in Karachi, sent him through email on March 23, 2004. He also placed on record another letter in which Dr Akmal Waheed had made a request for security after allegedly receiving threats from a person in the US Consulate, Karachi.

In his letter on Feb 10, he stated that he received a phone call on his mobile phone 0300-2506312. "The caller introduced himself as Douglas Mathews, a representative of the US Consulate, Karachi.

"He asked me to report to him with my passport to discuss about a six-month cardiology training programme in the US. When I asked who suggested my name for this without any proper proposal and procedure, even without my intention or application, he replied 'your office'.

"I asked him to let me confirm first from my office. He said, 'OK, contact me back on extension No 4120 at the American Consulate'. I then immediately contacted my executive director and administrative executive, but both were not aware of any such proposal, so I called back to the same mobile number, which was not attended. Then I called to the American Consulate, Karachi, on phone No. 5685174 and demanded to talk to Mr Douglas Mathews. The person at the receiving end replied that there is no such person in the American Consulate; but when I requested him to connect me to extension 4120, the same person was there who welcomed me and asked about my programme. When I told him that my institute is not aware of his proposal and it has not suggested my name for any programme, he advised me to talk to Mr Zulfiqar Qureshi, medical assistant to Dr Alex in the US Embassy, Islamabad, on phone No 051-20802556 who, according to him, actually suggested my name. I called this phone number on Feb 9. The attending person told his name as Zulfiqar Qureshi and he asked me if I attended any call from the American Consulate, Karachi. When I asked why did he suggest my name, he replied, "it is actually for a consultation job for employees of the American Consulate, Karachi, where you will have to give two hours twice a week for which you shall be paid handsomely'.

Since all this was not only mysterious but also was not through proper channel, so I refused. The same person, Douglas Mathews then again called me after a few minutes and insisted me for the same six-month training programme about which he had initially mentioned and when I told him that I am not available for six months, he changed his version and said that this is a four-week programme, which I again refused; then he asked me to visit him in the American Consulate at any cost, even for just 15 minutes. When I refused and asked him to contact me through proper channel, he threatened me, saying 'listen man, I have to catch you in a shortest possible time'.

Dr Akmal in his letter further stated that the situation had made him anxious, tense and he was worried about his security. So he requested that the matter be looked into on top priority.

Mr Mathews' email read: "Dear Professor Farooqi, Greeting Sir. I am with the United States Consulate General, Karachi, and writing to solicit your concurrence for Dr Akmal Waheed to participate as a candidate for the United States Government's International Visitors (IV) programme.

The email, sent on March 23, 2004, further said: "I will not be able to guarantee Dr Akmal's selection and as yet, due to appropriate requirements, have not been able to speak with him officially or initiate the necessary paperwork." It also said: "Please do not hesitate to contact me at the US Consulate, 5685170, extension 4120, or on my cell, 0300-2506312".

DW Dr Hafeez submitted that he knows Dr Akmal since 1996. He said in March 2004 he participated in a convention as general secretary of the FIMA. He said a participating doctor introduced him to Douglus Mathews, who wanted to meet Dr Akmal.

The DW produced a photograph of Mr Mathews, taken during the function. The foreigner also gave him his visiting card, he said.

The defence counsel had filed a list of as many as 17 witnesses. Later, the defence counsel prayed the court to summon defence witnesses.

The judge, however, did not summon the US CG, while defence counsel Ilyas Khan gave up Shaikh Rasheed as a defence witness.

Dr Akmal Waheed and Dr Arshad Waheed are facing a number of charges, including provision of medical treatment to Al Qaeda men and other terrorists.

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