A key witness and former official of Pakistan's Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) has refused to testify against Pakistani Taliban suspects being tried in the 2007 assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto, citing a threat to his life.
Two-time premier Bhutto was killed in a bombing and shooting incident in Rawalpindi, after which the former government claimed to have intercepted a telephone conversation which showed that the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was responsible for her death.
An ex-telephone operator of ISI excused himself from testifying before the court on Monday, saying his life is in danger as he lives in Karak district in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, which is close to violent tribal areas, the Dawn reports.
Consequently, the anti-terrorism court (ATC) discarded his earlier statement that he recorded before the team investigating the murder case in which he had confirmed that he intercepted the communication between the suspects and TTP terrorists.
Five suspects - Aitzaz Shah, Rafaqat Hussain, Husnain Gul, Sher Zaman and Abdul Rashid - are facing trial in the case.Former president Pervez Musharraf, former city police officer Rawalpindi Saud Aziz and former SP Khurram Shahzad were also accused in the case.
Besides the refusal of former operator of ISI, another witness, US journalist Mark Seigel, was unable to testify before the court.However, the prosecution had informed the court that Seigel could record his statement through video link.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) prosecutor told the court that the interior secretary was in contact with the Foreign Office and officials of the Pakistan embassy in the US to find Seigal and arrange s video link facility for him in the embassy.
It is believed that Seigal has in his possession vital information as Bhutto had sent him an email hinting at some danger to her life before her death.