The Special Court exempted former President and army chief Pervez Musharraf from appearing before the court on Monday and demanded a medical certificate from Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC), Rawalpindi, after he missed another hearing following a heart complaint.
A three-judge bench of Special Court comprising Justice Faisal Arab with Justice Syeda Tahira Safdar and Justice Yawar Ali resumed the hearing of high treason case against Musharraf. During the course of hearing, the bench turned down the plea of Prosecutor Muhammad Akram Sheikh to issue nonbailable arrest warrants against Musharraf who, he argued, had twice been granted exemption to appear before the court without submitting a medical certificate. Sheikh accused Musharraf of taking refuge in the AFIC where he was deliberately avoiding appearing before the court.
Citing Criminal Law Amended (Special Court) Act 1976, the Prosecutor argued that the accused had no exemption under certain provisions of the law and defended the maintainability of the instant matter saying the Executive had acted in accordance with law by constituting the special court for the trial of Musharraf. Sheikh also referred to certain provisions of the Criminal Law Amendment (Special Court) Act 1976. According to him, the Special Court has the power to punish anyone who obstructs or abuses its process or disobeys any of its orders or directions, or does anything which tends to prejudice the case of a party before it, or tends to bring it or any of its members into hatred or contempt, or does anything which, by law, constitutes contempt of court, with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to two hundred rupees or with both.
Responding to the contention of prosecutor, one of the members of Musharraf’s legal team, Anwar Mansoor Khan, raised an objection, saying that no institution should be maligned, leading Justice Faisal Arab to ask lawyers to avoid a cross-talk. Anwar Mansoor Khan further pleaded that there was no provision in the Criminal Special Act through which his client could be apprehended in the current matter.
He sought the permission of the bench to complete his arguments but the court repeatedly asked him whether or not Musharraf would appear before the court; to which he responded that he had not met his client but added that Musharraf was not able to appear before the court. The bench in its order contended that it would be inappropriate to issue arrest warrants against Musharraf as he was admitted to hospital for medical treatment. Sharifuddin Pirzada, senior defence counsel for Musharraf apprised the court that an ailing Musharraf was under treatment in AFIC. The hearing of case was adjourned till Tuesday (today).
AFP adds: Musharraf spent a fifth day in the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi, missing the hearing as his lawyers had said he would on Sunday. The three-judge bench adjourned the case to Tuesday and asked for a report on his condition to be submitted to explain his continued absence from proceedings.
Musharraf’s camp says the treason allegations, which relate to his imposition of emergency rule in November 2007, are politically motivated and his lawyers have challenged the authority of the tribunal. Doctors treating Musharraf have sent medical reports to experts in Britain to determine whether he should be flown abroad for treatment.
The ex-dictator’s sudden health scare was met with scepticism from some observers and feverish media speculation that his departure from Pakistan on medical grounds – possibly to either Saudi Arabia or the UAE – could be imminent. Some analysts believe such a move is necessary to head off a potentially destabilising clash between the government and the all-powerful military. Aside from the treason allegations, Musharraf also faces trial over the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the death of a rebel leader, a deadly raid on a radical mosque and the detention of judges.
Author: Khudayar Mohla
Source: Business Recorder & AFP