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Benazir case: Musharraf’s bail plea dismissed

April 25, 2013

RAWALPINDI, April 24: The Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi bench on Tuesday dismissed the bail before arrest application of former president General (retired) Pervez Musharraf in Benazir Bhutto murder case.

The court decision came after his counsel did not appear before the court as he was facing threats from anti-Musharraf lawyers.

When Lahore High Court division bench comprising Justice Khawaja Imtiaz Ahmed and Justice Abdul Sami Khan resumed hearing of Musharraf’s petition, advocate Afshan Adil appeared on behalf of former president.

She told the court that since former president was confined to a sub-jail at Chak Shahzad therefore he could not appear.

She told the court that the main counsel, barrister Salman Safdar, who was not appearing before the court for fear that anti-Musharraf lawyers might attack him, had requested for adjournment.

After some arguments, when advocate Adil wanted to withdraw the petition it learnt that she was not authorised to do so because she did not have attorney.

The court allowed her an hour but she could not arrange the papers and insisted for adjournment.

The bench subsequently dismissed the petition of former president Musharraf observing that despite provision of sufficient security the counsel remained absent.

In the application for the adjournment, Musharraf’s counsel contended that the lawyers not only tried to manhandle and assault Mr Musharraf on April 17 when he appeared before the Lahore High Court, but also openly violated the code of conduct and passed objectionable remarks against him during the course of court proceedings.

The petition pointed out that the local bar had announced complete strike subsequent to the unfortunate scuffle of Musharraf’s supporters and the lawyers on April 23.

The anti-Musharraf lawyers had openly stated that neither the petitioner (Musharraf) nor his legal counsel would be allowed to enter this court and had threatened them with dire consequences.

Barrister Safdar told Dawn that the lawyers wanted to manhandle him and he received a number of threatening calls and messages on his cell phone.

He, however, said that after the dismissal of pre-arrest bail he would move post-arrest bail applicationfor the release of former president after consultation.

After the proceedings, FIA special prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali told Dawn the FIA would move against the former president in accordance with law.

Under the law the prosecution agency would move an application before the Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) for taking the custody of the former president.

“It is up to the court to hand over Musharraf on physical remand to the FIA or send him on judicial lockup,” he said.

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) constituted to investigate the Benazir murder would examine this matter and evolve future strategy.