• Special court postpones former strongman’s indictment in high treason case till Friday

After repeatedly missing the special court hearings into a high treason case against him, former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday appeared in court. However, the court postponed his indictment on the charges till the petitions questioning the court’s jurisdiction to hear the case were decided.

The court, after giving a decision on whether it can hear this case or otherwise on Friday, will decide whether to issue summons to Musharraf regarding appearance or not. The court has also granted exemption to the accused from attendance till Friday.

The three-member special court led by Justice Faisal Arab took up the high treason case for hearing.

Defence counsel Anwar Mansoor, arguing on the petition seeking transfer of the high treason case against Musharraf from SC to a military court, said, “The SC can hear the treason case against civilians, however, an accused cannot be put to trial upon whom the allegation was leveled at such a time when he was in uniform. Armed forces function under the laws set by them. The cases against them are heard in military courts in the event of violation of these laws. Article 6 is different from Article 245, therefore Pervez Musharraf can only be tried in military courts only.”

Justice Faisal Arab enquired if a civilian president who had indulged in high treason would also be tried in military court. Anwar Mansoor said he was only giving arguments in his client’s favour. High treason cases have been instituted against Musharraf on the steps taken by him as the army chief, and not as a civilian president, he added. The court reserved judgment on the application seeking transfer of Musharraf’s case to a military court.

Anwar Mansoor argued that the case could not be heard if the accused had no hope of justice from the court or had reservations about the judges. “The general opinion about the judges who were reinstated after lawyers movement is that they will not hear the case against Pervez Musharraf on merit. Therefore, the petitioner’s objection about the bias of judges should be taken seriously, he said.

When Musharraf arrived in court he sat down on a chair. However when the bench arrived in the courtroom it asked for him. Mansoor told the court that his client was present in the court as per its orders on which the judges told Musharraf to stand up. The former army chief and president stood up, saluted the judges and then sat down on his seat.

The court adjourned the hearing of the case till today (Wednesday).

Musharraf faces treason charges under Article 6 for suspending, subverting and abrogating the constitution, imposing an emergency in the country in November 2007 and detaining judges of the superior courts.

The 70-year-old retired general was hospitalised at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) in Rawalpindi. He was rushed to the AFIC and admitted there over a month and a half ago, after he complained of chest pain en route to the court.

Security arrangements:

Stringent security arrangements were made for the 23-kilometre journey from the AFIC to the special court which has been set up in the National Library in Islamabad.

Musharraf travelled to the court even though his doctor had reportedly advised against it.

A medical protocol was also ready in case of any health emergency the former president may face.


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