Musharraf challenges Mark Siegel’s chargesBy Khalid Iqbal The News International

Mark Siegel (Credit: tribune.com.pk)

Mark Siegel
(Credit: tribune.com.pk)

RAWALPINDI, Nov 5: Former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf has challenged the US lobbyist Mark Siegel’s allegations against him. Musharraf through his lawyer filed a petition before the Anti-Terrorist Court (ATC), Rawalpindi Judge, Rai Muhammad Ayub Marth, here on Wednesday.

The Anti-Terrorist Court (ATC), Rawalpindi, accepted the petition of Musharraf for hearing and deferred Siegel’s cross-examination via video link which was scheduled at 7:30pm here at commissioner’s office on Wednesday. Siegel had claimed that Musharraf 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.

In a petition filed by Barrister Farogh Naseem, Musharraf asked the Anti-Terrorist Court to declare Siegel’s testimony unlawful. He said that the testimony was recorded in violation of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) as no judicial officer was presented while Siegel testified.

He also objected to Farooq H. Naek sitting next to Siegel as his advocate while he testified. The testimony lacked transparency and did not meet the requirements of the CrPC, the petitioner further said.

After accepting the petition for hearing, the court deferred Siegel’s cross-examination by Musharraf’s counsel via video link that was scheduled for 7:30pm on Wednesday. The court also issued a notice to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) prosecutor and adjourned the hearing till Nov 11, 2015.

On the other hand, Mark Siegel along with his lawyer Farooq H Naik was present here in the Pakistan Mission in Washington for cross-examination in Benazir murder case via video link on Wednesday.

On October 1, Siegel had recorded his statement before the ATC, Rawalpindi, where he had connected Gen Musharraf with late Benazir Bhutto’s murder. He accused him of deliberately depriving Benazir Bhutto of the security detail, despite imminent threats to her life.

He also claimed that Gen Musharraf rejected the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) request to bring foreign security personnel with Benazir Bhutto and the request for vehicles with tinted glasses.

Musharraf had earlier rejected Siegel’s allegations. “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 said in a statement.

“I am shocked and amazed at Siegel’s assertion that I made a threatening phone call to Ms Bhutto. This claim is entirely false, fictitious and appears to be willfully 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.

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