RAWALPIDNI - The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Rawalpindi No 1 on Saturday issued a fresh notice to US journalist Mark Siegel to appear before the court on January 19 as a prosecution witness in the Benazir Bhutto murder case.

Special Judge Chaudhary Habib-ur-Rehman issued the fresh notice to the American journalist after the FIA special public prosecutor told the court that the earlier summons issued on December 15 could not be received by the witness in the US.

However, the trial court could not record the statement of five other witnesses as the defence lawyers said they were on strike on the call of their bar association.

Dera Bugti DPO Aahfaq Anwar, who was SP headquarters in Rawalpindi in December 2007, was among the other witnesses. The DPO came all the way from Balochistan along with his official guards after a 19-hour drive, but his statement could not be recorded owing to the absence of the defence lawyers, said FIA prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali.

The other witnesses included Judicial Magistrate Ahmed Masood Janjua, Rawalpindi Medical College (RMC) Principal Dr Musaddiq Khan, Rescue 1122 District Emergency Officer Dr Abdur Rehman and Ghulam Muhammad Naz, a fire officer.

In another move, ATC No 1 dismissed the request of FIA’s lawyer that the proceedings of the case should be conducted on daily basis. The judge remarked that the court could not take up the case daily without the cooperation, and in the absence, of the defence lawyers.

Chaudhry Zulfiqar, while talking to media people, said he had moved the Lahore High Court against the decision of the trial court along with the record of the case, showing almost all adjournments in the last five years were granted on the request of the defence lawyers.

Earlier, the LHC directed the trial court to carry out speedy trial in the case against the five arrested accused under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).