Show evidence: With Musharraf missing, court asks for proof of illness

Published: January 7, 2014
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Ahmed Raza Kasuri, lawyer of former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf, gestures as he leaves a special court set up to try Musharraf after a hearing in Islamabad on January 6, 2014. PHOTO: AFP

Ahmed Raza Kasuri, lawyer of former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf, gestures as he leaves a special court set up to try Musharraf after a hearing in Islamabad on January 6, 2014. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

Few journalists and even fewer furtive glances at the entrance to the special court marked the fourth hearing of the treason trial against General (retd) Pervez Musharraf on Monday. The court gave the accused yet another exemption from appearing in person on a day when his absence came as no surprise, while also issuing an order for his medical certificate to be submitted today (Tuesday).

Unlike the previous hearings, where the courtroom was treated to the thespian skills of the defence and prosecution lawyers, Monday’s hearing seemed ‘routine’. The three-judge court – headed by Justice Faisal Arab – announced its decision after Musharraf failed to appear.

In his absence, the trial could not progress much. The presence of Musharraf is necessary for indictment, after which the court will formally commence trial proceedings and will start recording statements and evidence.

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Prosecutor Akram Sheikh said arrest warrants should be issued for the accused and he should be brought to the court as the law required. As per the criminal law amendment (Special Court Act 1976) it is mandatory that the hearing is not adjourned barring special circumstances. While reading out the act, Sheikh said the accused cannot miss a hearing even on grounds of illness. He also proposed a video link for the indictment of the accused.

After a brief recess, the court read out its written order that two exemptions had already been given to the accused while he was at his farmhouse and it is a fact that he is in hospital and that arrest warrants cannot be issued. The order also held that Musharraf’s legal team failed to submit any medical certificate of the accused to justify his absence.

The court was less than convinced with Musharraf’s counsel’s reply that his client is unable to show up on account of his illness, and sought a medical report of the accused from the medical superintendent or any other relevant official of the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) by 11:30am today (Tuesday), the next date of the hearing.

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Musharraf’s legal team staged yet another protest when the prosecutor claimed that Musharraf is seeking the AFIC as a ‘hideout’ for avoiding the court. “A person who doesn’t surrender is not entitled to be represented,” Sheikh added.

Amid protest from the defence, Sheikh said Musharraf is a fugitive of the law.

Justice Arab censured Musharraf’s lawyer Ahmad Raza Kasuri for interrupting the proceedings, and said, “Once the prosecutor concludes his arguments then you can rebut it.”

During the proceedings, Musharraf’s legal team, particularly Kasuri, tried to link Sheikh’s remarks as an issue of prestige for the army, to deter the prosecution. “I mean what I said,” Sheikh said in response.

Anwar Mansoor, another lawyer in Musharraf’s defence team, stood in his seat and quoted Sheikh as saying that he was representing the federation. Sheikh clarified that since the federation is the complainant in this case, he has been arguing the case as prosecutor.

Sheikh completed his arguments on the preliminary objections over applications filed by Musharraf’s legal team challenging the jurisdiction of the special court. On Tuesday, Mansoor will speak in rebuttal of Sheikh.

While speaking to the media after the hearing, Kasuri criticised Sheikh and said this treason case was not a trial of the former president but of the institution of the armed forces. “We will not tolerate the humiliation of our army,” he said.

Sheikh, on the other hand, dispelled the notion and alleged that certain elements were wrongly trying to drag the reputed institution into the case. “This case is not against any institution but against a person who is trying to evade law,” he stressed.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Jan 7, 2014 - 4:31AM

    Please surrender yourself and don’t behave like a petty criminal. Its you who is hurting army and its image. Also please don’t trust your supporters. They are taking advantage of your situation. Altaf Bhai has restored his image in Mohajar community and if things go very bad and Army takes over, its first mission would be to get rid of you. Retirees don’t get any share.

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  • Malik Hamza
    Jan 7, 2014 - 4:49AM

    Shame that a Army chief, a war veteran is fighting a treason case.
    So sad.
    Jiyaa Musharraf.

    Recommend

  • polpot
    Jan 7, 2014 - 7:47AM

    What if there has been a dramatic recovery of the Patient?
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    And now no signs of the heart attack can be found?
    But the rooad to the Court is paved with heart attacks.

    Recommend

  • polpot
    Jan 7, 2014 - 7:49AM

    “He also proposed a video link for the indictment of the accused.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    AFIC already has a video link…it was used to consult British ‘doctors’.
    just being observant.

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  • Professor
    Jan 7, 2014 - 8:00AM

    What kind of message does this send to the law abiding citizens?

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  • Hammad
    Jan 7, 2014 - 9:25AM

    Such a shame that a war veteran, who got Pakistan so much respect and honor by not only finding our hidden resources but also guiding us towards the right direction, is treated in such a bad way!
    He was the only sane voice supporting our country in all the forums of the world.
    If something happens to him, morons like Hamid Mir will be feeling proud of their “achievement”.

    May Allah protect him & guide us all to the right direction!

    Recommend

  • polpot
    Jan 7, 2014 - 9:30AM

    @Professor: “What kind of message does this send to the law abiding citizens?”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    That the Law may be blind but it is not ‘heartless’.

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  • Curious
    Jan 7, 2014 - 10:00AM

    Check properly whether he is in the hospital or already fled out of country.

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