Rawalpindi - Mark Siegel, a key prosecution witness in Benazir Bhutto murder case, will be available for cross-examination in the first week of November, the Foreign Office informed a local court yesterday.

The court also summoned Inspector Kashif Riaz, the plaintiff, and Punjab member of joint investigation team (JIT) Tariq Ilyas for recording their testimonies on the next date of hearing. The court declared SSP Tahir Ayub, who was member of the joint investigation team, as absconder due to his continuous absence despite issuance of multiple summon-notices.

Earlier, the court took up the assassination case in heavily-guarded Adiala Jail when a representative of foreign ministry appeared before the court and said Mark Siegel, the US author and key witness in the high profile case, would turn up in Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC in the first week of November for cross-examination through video link.

The court was informed that arrangements for cross-examination of American lobbyist Mark Siegel will be made at the office of Rawalpindi Commissioner.

The judge ordered the foreign minister to submit a final date for cross-examination of Mark Siegel.

Meanwhile, the prosecution apprised the court that Inspector Kashir Riaz, the plaintiff and the then SHO Police Station City, could not attend the hearing for cross-examination because of the death of her grandmother.

Later the court deferred the proceedings of the case till October 14.

Fifty-four-year-old Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a suicide attack outside Liaquat Bagh Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007, after she addressed an election campaign rally.

In his testimony through a video conference from the Pakistan Embassy in Washington on October 3, Mark Seigel told the court that former President Pervez Musharraf threatened ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto weeks before she was assassinated in Rawalpindi.

“Your security is dependent on the relationship between us,” Musharraf told Bhutto on 25 December 2007, according to Siegel.

He claimed he was present with Benazir Bhutto during the 15-minute long telephone call at the office of US Senator Tom Lantos. Musharraf denied all the allegations.