Musharraf case hearing adjourned till July 23

Registrar says hearing will not take place as judges are on leave

Our Correspondent June 27, 2019
General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: A special court has adjourned hearing of a high treason case against former president Pervez Musharraf till July 23 because of unavailability of judges. According to registrar of the special court, the concerned judges are on leave.

The law secretary will now present a report to a panel of lawyers representing Pervez Musharraf.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government had notified the three-judge special court in 2013 – shortly after coming into power – to try the former military ruler for subverting the Constitution in November 2007.

Musharraf, however, flew to Dubai in 2016 for medical treatment after the government removed his name from the Exit Control List (ECL) on order of the Sindh High Court (SHC). The former dictator has been living abroad since and skipped all subsequent hearing of the special court.

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In view of his nonappearance, the special court on June 12 observed that the court proceedings could no longer be halted due to the accused’s illness. The court also declared that Musharraf has lost the right to engage a counsel unless he surrenders.

“In view of the established principle that a trial could not be held in abeyance or could be adjourned for an indefinite period coupled with findings of the Supreme Court, whereby it was held that the accused being fugitive from law, thus loses his right to audience, also lost to have an advocate appointed to defend him unless he surrenders himself before the court,” read the written order.

“As decided by the Supreme Court, the learned counsel presently representing the accused neither could represent him nor could defend him [accused] with the exception the accused appears and surrenders himself before the court.”

The special court also directed the Ministry of Law and Justice to recommend a panel of advocates to defend the former army chief, in line with Section 9 of Criminal Law Special Court Act 1976.

“In the view of the described state of facts and in compliance of the decision given by Supreme Court for further proceedings of the trial a counsel is to be appointed to defend the accused as required by the Section 9 of the Act 1976.

“The Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of Pakistan, is directed to submit a panel of advocate for the purpose along with the package of fee to be paid to the advocate, so appointed to enable this court to further proceed with the case, as required.”

The decision came after the defence counsel said the former president and army chief was physically and mentally unfit to return to the country. Maintaining that he was ‘underweight’ and ‘fighting for his life’, Musharraf’s lawyer had requested for another exemption.

“He is on a wheelchair and cannot walk,” he told the court. The counsel said he was embarrassed to repeatedly seek adjournments but said Musharraf’s health had deteriorated sharply over recent months. He had requested for permission to record Musharraf’s statement via video link.


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