Former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf who appeared on Tuesday before an Anti Terrorism Court for the first time over the murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto might face trouble due to a recorded statement given by US journalist Mark Siegel alleging he (Musharraf) threatened the slain PPP leader of dire consequences if she returned to Pakistan before the 2008 general elections, informed sources told The News here on Tuesday.
The sources said additional director of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Azad Khan went to the United States and recorded Mark Siegel’s statement under section 161 in which he allegedly said that former president Pervez Musharraf had telephoned Benazir Bhutto and threatened her not to return before the general elections otherwise she would have to face dire consequences.
They said Mark Siegel also claimed that in her email in October 2007, which was originally meant for CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Benazir Bhutto named some persons who, according to her, would be responsible for her death if another attempt was made on her life after the bombing of the Karsaz rally in Karachi on October 18 2007.
Wolf Blitzer received the email on October 26, 2007 through Mark Siegel in which Benazir Bhutto allegedly stated “On Oct 16, before returning home, I wrote a letter to Gen Musharraf in which I informed him that if anything happens to me as a result of these attacks, then I will neither nominate the Afghan Taliban, nor Al Qaeda, not even Pakistani Taliban or the fourth group. I will nominate those people who, I believe, mislead the people. I have spelt out names of such people in the letter. I have named three people, and more, in that letter to Gen Musharraf. I have named certain people with a view to the attack that took place yesterday so that if I was assassinated, who should be investigated.”
It is pertinent to mention here that when the Anti-Terrorism Court in Rawalpindi summoned Mark Siegel to record his statement in the former prime minister’s assassination case in 2011 he refused to come to Pakistan to record his statement citing security concerns. No body has so far been convicted or jailed for Benazir Bhutto’s assassination on December 27, 2007 in Rawalpindi despite a long-running court case.
The sources in FIA said if Mark Siegel is reluctant to come to Pakistan then his statement can be recorded through video link under Article 164 of Qanoon-i-Shahadat 1984 (Evidence Law) and the precedent of Mansoor Ejaz is there as he also cited security reasons and recorded his statement from the Pakistan High Commission in London.
Some people also quoted Mark Siegel as saying that Benazir Bhutto did not necessarily believe that President Musharraf wanted her dead, but felt many people around him did.
When contacted, former FIA director general Anwar Virk, who was in-charge when the statement of Mark Siegel was recorded in the US, said a senior official, Khalid Qureshi, was exclusively dealing with the Benazir’s murder case and he time and again informed him about the developments in the case. He however avoided confirming the recording of Mark Siegel’s statement by FIA in the US but said he was well informed about the developments in the case and they also provided some details to the court.