Musharraf Challenges Bhutto's Murder Allegations by US Journo

Sajjad Hussain/Islamabad
Musharraf Challenges Bhutto's Murder Allegations by US Journo

Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf today challenged in court allegations made by a top American journalist that he threatened slain ex-premier Benazir Bhutto before her return to Pakistan in 2007 from self-imposed exile.

Bhutto, the former two-time prime minister, was killed in December 2007 in a bomb attack in Rawalpindi when Musharraf was president of the country.

The ex-general has been indicted as one of the accused in the case.

American journalist and lobbyist Mark Siegel in his testimony had said that Musharraf called Benazir in his presence and threatened her if she returned to Pakistan.

Siegel said in his statement that just days before her return from a self-imposed exile, Musharraf called Benazir in the US.

Farogh Naseem, Musharraf's lawyer, challenged the testimony and the Anti-Terrorism Court in Rawalpindi admitted it for hearing.

Naseem said in the petition that the testimony was recorded in violation of the Code of Criminal Procedure and asked the court to declare Siegel's testimony unlawful.

The court after accepting the petition for hearing and postponed Siegel's cross-examination by Musharraf's counsel that was scheduled for today and adjourned the hearing till November 11.

Siegel said Musharraf deliberately deprived Bhutto of the security detail despite threats.

Musharraf had already rejected the charges of making any such call and said he never used a mobile phone at that time.

Musharraf said he could "clearly see the conspiracy" behind the accusations, adding that he started using a mobile phone in April 2009, almost two years after Benazir was killed.

Musharraf ruled Pakistan from 1999 to 2008. He faces several cases and lives in Karachi. He is not allowed to leave the country.

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