ISLAMABAD, June 21: Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Judge Syed Kausar Abbas Zaidi recorded the statements of three police officers on Friday in the judges’ detention case against the former military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf.
Oddly, none of the 11 spirited lawyers who instituted the case against Musharraf appeared before Judge Zaidi who had framed the charge against the former army chief on June 15 and called the 18 witnesses cited by the prosecution to record their statements.
Since the proceedings were not open to the media, information about what transpired there was collected from people who were there.
The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) held the proceedings inside the Chak Shahzad farmhouse of Gen Musharraf, which the authorities have declared a sub-jail.
Special Prosecutor Amir Nadeem Tabish told reporters on emerging from the proceedings that police inspector Hakim Khan told the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) that he registered the FIR against Gen Musharraf on August 11, 2009 for detaining over 60 judges of the superior courts after complainant advocate Mohammad Aslam Ghumman produced a sessions court’s order to do that.
Inspector Hakim Khan said that initially the former army chief was booked under Section 344 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which was a bailable offence.
Sub-Inspector Shahid, the second police witness, said he took over the investigation after Hakim Khan was transferred to another post.
Constable Atiqur Rehman informed the court that he had fixed the order of a sessions court that declared Gen Musharraf a proclaimed offender at the general’s residence.
Anwaar Dar, one of the complainant lawyers, claimed to reporters that he did not receive any court summons to appear as a witness. “I would definitely appear if the summon is delivered to me,” he said.
At the same time he spoke about the disappointment of the complainant lawyers that the actual victims – meaning the judges – of Gen Musharraf’s November 3, 2007 proclamation of emergency were not ready to join the legal battle the complainants were fighting.
“Not a single serving or retired judge is ready to appear in the court for the redress of their own grievance,” said Dar.
Special prosecutor Tabish, however, asserted that summons were delivered to all the witnesses – 11 lawyers, six police officers and a producer of the state-run Pakistan Television. And the media also reported the same widely.
It was up to the witnesses to answer the summons, the special prosecutor said, claiming he did so in the face of “certain threats” to his life.
“I reached the temporary courtroom on my own motorcycle. The district administration did not provide me any transport nor any security,” the special prosecutor complained.
Advocate Mohammad Aslam Ghumman, the main complainant in the judges’ detention case, admitted that he received the summons but said he decided to stay away from the proceedings because the police did not arrange security for him.
“Unless I am provided adequate security I would not appear before the court for recording my statement,” said the advocate who filed a petition in the Supreme Court a week ago, alleging that a private security official of Gen Musharraf was threatening him and requesting a security detail for himself.
After cross-examining the police witnesses who appeared in the ATC on Friday, advocate Ilyas Siddiqui, counsel for Gen Musharraf, told Dawn that “none of the prosecution witnesses is relevant as they don’t know about the detention order” his client is accused of.
Gen Musharraf was not standing outside the judges’ residences.
“If the judges were detained then the Inspector General of Islamabad police, SSP and other senior police officers should also be challaned,” he said.
The ATC would take up the case again on June 29.