Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on Dec 27, 2007, in a public gathering in Rawalpindi.—File Photo

RAWALPINDI: An anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi has summoned six prosecution witnesses, including late Benazir Bhutto’s friend and lobbyist Mark Siegel to record his statement in the former prime minister’s assassination case.

The ATC was hearing the case at Rawalpindi’s Adiyala Jail premises on Saturday. During today’s proceedings, counsels for the prosecution and defence concluded their arguments over two witnesses, Magistrate Ahmed Masood Janjua and police officer (SHO) Aijaz Shah.

Following conclusion of arguments, the bench issued summons for American Mark Siegel, who was also the Bhutto’s friend, to appear before the court on Jan 5 to record his statement.

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.

According to Siegel, former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf had threatened Bhutto with dire consequences if she returned home before the 2008 general election.

A statement, recorded by Siegel in the US, says Bhutto received a telephone call from Musharraf at a time when she was with Siegel. In the conversation that followed, the general allegedly told Bhutto that he would not be responsible for her security if she returned before the election.

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.

The court further issued summons to the other five witnesses, including Professor Dr Musadiq, Rescue 1122 In-charge, Dr Abdur Rehman, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Yaseen Farooq, and Superintendent Police (SP) Ashfaq Anwar. The hearing was subsequently adjourned until Dec 22.

Meanwhile, the prosecution agency, the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA), has also asked the Interpol to arrest Musharraf — a request that has been turned down by the world police stating it was moved under political pressure.

According to a recent report by Dawn, the FIA has responded to Interpol’s rejection claiming Musharraf wanted to eliminate Bhutto, considering her a threat to his rule.

In a letter to the Interpol, the prosecution agency said “evidence brought on record by JIT (joint investigation team) directly connected Musharraf with the offence resulting in the assassination of Ms Bhutto. Accused Musharraf has fully aided, abetted and hatched the conspiracy to assassinate Ms Bhutto.”

The high-profile case has lingered on in courts for almost five years now.

According to Interior Minister Rehman Malik, all killers of Benazir Bhutto have been arrested and their identity would be disclosed on Dec 27, the fifth anniversary of her assassination.