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Special court rejects Musharraf's plea to adjourn high treason case

June 12, 2019

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A special court in Islamabad on Wednesday rejected former military dictator retired Gen Pervez Musharraf's plea for adjournment of the hearing of a high treason case against him. — AP/File
A special court in Islamabad on Wednesday rejected former military dictator retired Gen Pervez Musharraf's plea for adjournment of the hearing of a high treason case against him. — AP/File

A special court in Islamabad on Wednesday rejected former military dictator Pervez Musharraf's plea for adjournment of the hearing of a high treason case against him.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Tahira Safdar also cancelled retired Gen Musharraf's right of defence due to his repeated non-appearance before the court.

Musharraf is facing a treason trial under Article 6 of the Constitution as well as Section 2 of the High Treason Act on a complaint moved by the federal government.

During the proceedings, Musharraf's lawyer Salman Safdar said that the former military dictator was "fighting for his life", adding that he was not physically or mentally capable of returning the country.

Musharraf's counsel said that he was embarrassed by repeatedly submitting requests to adjourn the case's hearing.

He said that his client was rapidly losing weight, adding that he was unable to walk and used a wheelchair.

Safdar asked for one more chance so that Musharraf could himself appear in court.

He said that the former military dictator was having "heart chemotherapy" because of which his health had deteriorated.

Justice Safdar remarked that the Supreme Court had given a verdict, to which the lawyer responded that he was aware of this and requested that the plea be accepted on the basis of compassion.

The bench of the special court asked the lawyer to read the Supreme Court verdict from April 1.

On April 1, the apex court had directed the special court to proceed with the trial on the next date of hearing (May 2) and in case the former president surrendered and appeared before it, he would be entitled to record his statement.

But if he failed to appear, being a PO (proclaimed offender), the special court was empowered to proceed against him even in his absence under Section 9 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973, the top court had held.

The prosecutor's lawyer Dr Tariq Hassan in his arguments today said that the court had given Musharraf the chance to give his statement through a video link.

He presented arguments regarding Musharraf's health in response to which Justice Safdar enquired: "Are you speaking against his physical health?"

Justice Nazar Akbar asked if he wanted confirmation about Musharraf's health, which the lawyer denied.

Justice Shahid Karim that they need to look at whether or not to approve the request to adjourn the case. The prosecutor's lawyer opposed the adjournment.

The three-judge bench rejected Gen Musharraf's plea to adjourn the case.

While speaking to the media, Musharraf's lawyer said that they had presented medical and photographic evidence in court so that the judges could get an idea of Musharraf's condition.

He said that there were "no two opinions" about his client's current condition, adding that he was very unwell.

Safdar said that the current plea was not an excuse, the former military dictator was unwell, adding that Musharraf had stayed in the country for three to four years but the trial had not been completed.

"It was a small trial, it would have been reasonable if it was completed in his presence," said the lawyer.

He alleged that the petitioner from the interior ministry had himself sent Musharraf abroad.

"Today he is himself not accepting Musharraf's illness," he said.

Safdar said that therefore they had submitted another plea today. He reiterated that his client was unwell and was wheelchair bound.

"If the doctor gives him permission, he will certainly come to Pakistan," he said.

Safdar said that now the federal government will make a panel of lawyers after which the court will make a decision about who will represent Musharraf, adding that he was ready to give the lawyers his assistance.