ISLAMABAD: Former president Pervez Musharraf failed to appear before the court citing security threats, Express News reported Tuesday.
Musharraf was due to appear before the special court today to face treason charges under Article 6 for suspending, subverting and abrogating the Constitution, imposing an emergency in the country in November 2007 and detaining judges of the superior courts.
During the course of the hearing at the National Library in Islamabad, the prosecutor said that the hearing can not go forward if the accused is not present as it is a criminal case. The hearing was adjourned and will resume on January 1.
Musharraf’s advocate Ahmed Raza Kasuri argued that the former dictator can not appear before the court until “full-proof” security is provided and someone from the Interior Ministry takes responsibility for his safety.
The former president’s legal team submitted a written request explaining his absence, as per the court’s orders.
Kasuri stated that the constitution of the bench and the prosecutor will be addressed in the hearing in January. Musharraf’s counsel had submitted two requests earlier, challenging the appointment of the three-member bench of the special court and the prosecutor.
Dr Khalid Ranjha, a member of Musharraf’s legal team, said that a prosecutor is totally independent and is someone who is impartial. He added that in this case, the term ‘persecutor’ would be more appropriate.
Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Tahira Safdar and Justice Yawar Ali were on the three-member bench of the special court.
A five-kilogramme bomb was recovered from former president Pervez Musharraf’s route to court on Tuesday morning.
Musharraf’s Advocate Anwar Maqsood had stated later that this was the sort of threat preventing Musharraf from appearing before the court.
Security personnel found two pistols, a five-meter detonator wire as well as 16 bullets near his farmhouse when they were clearing his route to the hearing.
The Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) arrived at the scene and diffused the bomb which was found in a briefcase. They also cleared the area.
There were 250 Islamabad police officers and 100 army personnel to provide security at the National Library, shipping containers were also put in place to form a security barrier to the compound.
Musharraf had dismissed the treason charges against him as politically motivated and is expected to appear in person, after legal efforts to have the tribunal ruled invalid failed.
It is the first time in Pakistan’s history that a former military ruler has been put on trial for treason.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who won a third term in May’s general election, was the man Musharraf ousted in his 1999 coup and the former general’s lawyers say he is using the case to exact revenge.
Since returning from self-imposed exile in March to run in the election, Musharraf has faced a range of serious criminal cases dating back to his 1999-2008 rule.
He stands accused of murder over the death of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, killed in a gun and suicide attack in December 2007, as well as charges over the death of a rebel leader, a military raid on Lal Masjid and the detention of judges.
Musharraf was put under house arrest in April over the cases but was granted bail in each, one by one.
There have been persistent rumours that a deal would be struck to let him leave Pakistan before facing the courts to avoid a clash between the army and government.
But no deal has been forthcoming and last week, speaking publicly for the first time since his house arrest began, Musharraf vowed to stay and fight to clear his name.