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Proof of income sought from Musharraf’s wife

October 06, 2012

RAWALPINDI, Oct 6: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) hearing a petition of Sehba Musharraf, the wife of former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, asked her on Saturday to submit proof of her income deposited in the couple’s joint bank accounts.

ATC Special Judge Chaudhry Habibur Rehman issued the directive while hearing a bail plea filed by Mrs Musharraf against the declaration of her husband as a proclaimed offender in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case and start of the process for confiscation of his assets.

The court had declared Gen Musharraf a proclaimed offender in August last year and attached his moveable and immovable property and bank accounts.

It observed on Saturday that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had maintained status quo since October last year regarding a farmhouse in Chak Shahzad owned by the former president.

The court observed that the petitioner had not presented any evidence in support of her claim of ownership of the joint accounts. She was ordered to present evidence of her income by Oct 20 to establish her claim.

The petitioner’s counsel Ilyas Siddiqui told Dawn that he would submit all the documents related to the accounts and property of her client.

“Mrs Musharraf will also appear in the court and it may also summon the bank managers concerned,” he added.

The Federal Investigation Agency’s Special Prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali informed the court that Gen Musharraf owned Rs110 million in 11 bank accounts, including four jointly owned with his wife.

He pointed out that Sehba Musharraf was a housewife and she could not have arranged such a huge amount on her own with her known sources of income.

He claimed that the amount seized in the joint accounts had been deposited by Gen Musharraf and would be attached because he was a proclaimed offender who was not entitled to any relief unless he surrendered before a court.

The lawyer said Gen Musharraf owned the farmhouse in Chak Shahzad, a plot in Gwadar’s Singhar Housing Colony and the 11 bank accounts mentioned in a letter of the State Bank dated June 23 last year.

Talking to this reporter, the special prosecutor alleged that the former first lady was trying to dodge the courts. On one hand she had filed the petition in the ATC in order to save the bank accounts of her husband and on the other she had approached the IHC for ownership of the farmhouse. He alleged that Mrs Musharraf had concealed facts and deliberately not made the FIA a respondent in the petition filed in the IHC. She was trying to hide from the IHC the fact that the ATC had attached the farmhouse in the assassination case.

The counsel for Mrs Musharraf contended before the court that the process for declaring Gen Musharraf a proclaimed offender and confiscating his property had been conducted in haste and no inquiry had been held before doing so.

He said Gen (retd) Musharraf had left the country much before the court had declared him a proclaimed offender and a person could not be declared an absconder and his property could not be attached if he had already gone abroad.

Mr Siddiqui said the ownership of the farmhouse was controversial because the former president had gifted it to his wife and the IHC had ordered status quo on the matter. Meanwhile, cross-examination of two prosecution witnesses in the Benazir assassination case — Mohammad Saqlain, an official of the bomb disposal squad, and Dr Amjad Ali Shah, deputy medical superintendent of the district headquarters hospital — was concluded on Saturday.

Mr Saqlain said the bomb disposal squad had not been called for a security check before or during the Liaquat Bagh rally held on Dec 27, 2007, but was called after the terrorist attack in which 24 people were killed.

He told the court that a large quantity of high intensity explosive was used in the attack which caused the death of Ms Bhutto.

Dr Shah said he had conducted post-mortem of 12 bodies and all of the victims had died because of the bomb explosion.

The court summoned four prosecution witnesses — three doctors and a police officer.