LHC exempts Malik from court appearance

Express April 28, 2010

LAHORE: A special division bench of the Lahore High Court on Tuesday exempted on Tuesday federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik from appearing in person in its next hearing on Thursday (April 29) on his appeals against convictions in NAB cases.

The bench, comprising Chief Justice Khawaja Muhammad Sharif and Justice Waqar Hasan Mir, directed his lawyer to compulsorily appear before the court at the next hearing, warning that otherwise the court would start proceedings without him. Mr Malik appeared with his lawyer and said that he could not appear on April 29 because he was going to be in Tajikistan between April 29 and 30, and requested for an exemption for that day.

The court had already granted him bail after suspending his conviction under Section 31-A of the National Accountability Ordinance in two references. Two corruption cases were registered by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) against Rehman Malik in 1997 and 1998 during his tenure, as the additional director-general of the FIA. Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court Chief Justice, Khawaja Muhammad Sharif, on Tuesday stopped PPP Lahore’s Information Secretary Zakria Butt from appearing with Interior Minister Rehman Malik before the court.

The chief justice criticised him for appearing along with the defendant, asking him: “Whom are you representing here?” Questioning his presence in the court, the judge said that the court did not require his presence. “You should sit behind… You have no right to be here,” the judge said. Hearing this, Mr Butt returned to his seat immediately after leaving the dais without uttering a single world. Meanwhile, talking to reporters outside the LHC, Malik said that the US had so far not demanded the custody of suspected Taliban members arrested from Sargodha and if they did, Pakistan would abide by the extradition treaty signed by the two countries.

About the UN fact-finding report on Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, he said that the report had not identified elements responsible for killing the PPP leader. When a reporter asked him about the protocol provided to former president Pervez Musharraf, he said it was the prerogative of the UK government to give him any protocol it wanted.

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