Musharraf’s medical report: What legal experts say

Senator Zafar says unless the concerned person appeared in the court, indictment would neither be regular nor valid.


Qamar Zaman January 08, 2014
Former president Pervez Musharraf raises his hands after appearing at the Sindh Hight Court in Karachi on March 29, 2013. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD:


Defence lawyers on Tuesday handed a medical report about General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s health condition to the special court hearing the treason case against the former military ruler.


Well-known jurist Senator S M Zafar said the court might accept the report submitted by the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC), where the ex-president is currently receiving treatment.

“In the present case of General Musharraf, the report from the army medical unit should be sufficient for the court to proceed further,” Zafar said while talking to The Express Tribune on Tuesday.

“I don’t see any reason why the tribunal would doubt the report of such an esteemed institution,” he added.

While sharing his personal impression about the development of the case, he said: “The tribunal will not ask for setting up any board [of doctors to have an opinion over the report] but the counsel from government side may insist for the same.”

Responding to a question about the fate of the Musharraf in case he did not appear before the court, Senator Zafar said that unless the concerned person appeared in the court, indictment would neither be regular nor valid.

“So his [Musharraf] presence is essential on the date of framing charges because only he can admit or deny that,” Zafar added.

However, he said, the case would not finish but te special court would adjourn the hearing from time to time unless Musharraf appeared before the court.

“He cannot be charge-sheeted unless he himself is present in the court,” he added.

While explaining the procedure, he said that there were two stages in a criminal case when presence of an accused was essential: first at the time when the accused was charge-sheeted and afterwards when the prosecution presented evidences and the accused was asked about the evidence recorded against him.

“At these two stages, his presence is essential; otherwise he can be represented by his counsel,” he added.

Zafar quoted the example of the cases against former president Asif Ali Zardari and said that it was his medical certificate but he never appeared before the court, neither here nor in Switzerland. He referred to the cases against former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and said that cases remained pending against her.

Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmood –lawyers’ leader during the movement for restoration of judges – however sees the medical report as ‘passport’ for the former president.

“The medical report has been presented, so far, to get exemption from appearance which has been given. The real issue for Musharraf is removal of his name from Exit Control List (ECL),” Mehmood told The Express Tribune.

“I think there might come another medical report in next few days and on the basis of that report Musharraf legal team would challenge the court decision of placing his name on the ECL,” he said, adding that it was the only way out for Musharraf after government’s refusal to entertain a request by his wife seeking removal of ban from traveling abroad.

“Musharraf will not leave the country to return,” he said responding to a question about the fate of the case. He said the court would discuss all these issues including security threats and medical grounds due to which Musharraf could not appear and might go for the use of modern technology as it happened in Memogate scandal.

Responding to a question, he said that division among the politicians over the issue is weakening government’s stance to try Musharraf. He referred to recent statements of different parties criticising  the government for not trying him for October 12, 1999. He said such statements were indirectly supporting the ex-ruler.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2014.

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