Musharraf moves LHC against impending high treason case verdict

Published November 23, 2019
Former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf. — AFP/File
Former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf. — AFP/File

Just days before a special court is scheduled to announce its verdict in the high treason case against him, former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf on Saturday petitioned the Lahore High Court to challenge the reservation of the judgment.

Musharraf's counsel, Khwaja Ahmed Tariq Rahim, approached the high court on his client's behalf, contending that the reserving of the verdict on November 19 was "unconstitutional and void". It was pleaded that the impugned order from that date be suspended and that "the trial in absentia being conducted against the petitioner" be stayed until his physical appearance before the court.

Citing the "landmark judgment" in the Mustafa Impex, Karachi vs The Government of Pakistan case, the petition has called for the decision in that case to be enforced and the trial in Musharraf's case to be re-initiated.

Additionally, the petition has argued that the federation of Pakistan and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) "be directed to conduct a proper and unbiased investigation including the names of all alleged aiders and abettors for the proper appreciation of facts and evidence at trial".

It has also pleaded that the petitioner be granted his "constitutional right to a fair trial and audience in the instant trial" according to the law.

Furthermore, it has contended that the section of the Criminal Law Amendments (Special Court) Act, 1976, which denies the accused an adjournment even on the grounds of illness, "be suspended and declared unconstitutional". In this regard, it has also requested that the trial be adjourned until the petitioner's medical condition "allows for his safe return to the country to face trial".

Musharraf's petition has requested that an independent medical board "at the expense of the petitioner" be constituted to assess his present medical condition.

The court has fixed the petition for a hearing on November 25. Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi will preside over the proceedings.

Musharraf had declared a state of emergency on Nov 3, 2007, that lasted till the mid of December during which the Constitution remained suspended.

The high treason trial of the former military dictator has been pending since December 2013 when he was booked in the case.

He was indicted on March 31, 2014, and the prosecution had tabled the entire evidence before the special court in September the same year. However, due to litigation at appellate forums, the trial of the former president lingered on and he left Pakistan in March 2016 "to seek medical treatment".

The retired general was that year declared an absconder as he failed to appear before the court despite repeated summons and the court directive issued to the FIA to arrest him.

All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) Overseas President Afzaal Siddiqui had disclosed in October 2018 that Musharraf suffered from amyloidosis, a rare disease that has "weakened his nervous system".

The three-judge special court, headed by Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth, had held on November 19 that a verdict based on available record would be pronounced on November 28. Additionally, the court had said that Musharraf's counsel could submit written arguments by November 26.

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