Treason trial will continue with or without Musharraf, warns court


–Special court summons ex-president on May 2, says in case of absence it will pass order regarding testimony of accused

–Defence counsel says his client wants to appear on May 12, opposes recording of statement via Skype


ISLAMABAD: A special court hearing the high treason case against former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf has summoned the ex-military strongman on May 2 to record his statement, warning the bench would issue an appropriate order if he failed to appear.

The former president has been indicted in a high treason case for suspending the constitution on Nov 3, 2007. He left for Dubai in 2016 to “seek medical treatment” and hasn’t returned since. Last week, Musharraf was admitted to a hospital in Dubai after suffering a reaction from a rare disease for which he is already under treatment.

If the former president failed to appear before the court, it would issue an appropriate order regarding accused testimony if the former president failed to appear on next date of hearing, the judge observed.

Musharraf’s counsel Suleman Safdar informed the court that his client wanted to appear before the court on May 13.

However, he was suffering from rare disease and his chemotherapy was underway, said Musharraf’s counsel, adding it was necessary for his client to stay in the hospital for eight hours in a day for the treatment.

He said Pervez Musharraf was also suffering from a problem of backbone after he slipped and fell down in the bathroom.

The court also handed over a questionnaire under 342 to Musharraf’s counsel.

Musharraf’s lawyer requested the court to provide a complete record of high treason case against his client.

To this, the court asked the defence counsel to submit a proper application in this regard.

Suleman Safdar added that his client was not an absconder, in fact the federal government allowed him to travel for medical treatment.

When Safdar mentioned the Supreme court’s remarks likening Musharraf to British dictator Oliver Cromwell, the special court told him to focus on the case.

Last week, the chief justice of Pakistan cited the example of Cromwell whose skeleton was exhumed from his grave and hanged after a trial against him for dismissing an English parliament in 1653.

The trial against Cromwell went ahead by framing the charges to his skeleton and considered that the body was denying all allegations. The trial then pronounced hanging till death.

The counsel also opposed the option to record the former dictator’s statement through ‘Skype’ application. He also opposed the trial option in the absence of his client.

Meanwhile, Musharraf’s counsel submitted a separate application to the court seeking orders for cabinet approval to continue the trial proceeding. The former government had initiated a case against his client without permission of the cabinet.