Special court sets date for Musharraf treason verdict

Pervez Musharraf. (AFP)
Updated 06 December 2019

Special court sets date for Musharraf treason verdict

  • Ailing former army chief asks court to record his statement in Dubai

ISLAMABAD: The special court in Islamabad hearing the high treason case against Pakistan’s former military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, said on Thursday that it would announce its verdict on Dec. 17.

The case has been in court for the past seven years, as Musharraf’s ill health has meant multiple adjournments.

The Islamabad High Court stopped the special court from pronouncing its verdict on Nov. 27. Musharraf plans to submit an application to the three judges of the special court requesting the bench to form a commission that can record his statement in a bid to stop the court from announcing its verdict, his lawyer Salman Safdar said on Thursday.

“President Musharraf has instructed me to file an application in the court for a commission on the next hearing of the case,” Safdar told Arab News.

The government’s prosecution team asked the court for time to prepare and present its argument at the next hearing.

Musharraf seized power in October 1999 by toppling the civilian government of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup. He remained in power until 2008.

When Sharif returned to power in 2013, he instituted a high treason case against Musharraf for subverting the constitution and imposing a state of emergency in November 2007. The case has been pending since December 2013. High treason is punishable by death or life imprisonment under Pakistani law.

Prosecutor Ali Zia Bajwa informed the court that he had received a 3,000-page record and it would take him time to go through all the documents before presenting his arguments.

“I want to go through the whole record before pleading the case,” Bajwa said, seeking “reasonable time” from the court to prepare. Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, head of the three-member bench, directed the prosecution team to give their final arguments on December 17.

Musharraf’s lawyer said it would be “unfair” if the court announced its verdict “without allowing me time to plead the case to prove my client’s innocence.”

“We hope the court will hear us in the next proceeding and constitute a commission to record General Musharraf’s statement,” he said.

The 76-year-old former military dictator is living in self-imposed exile in Dubai, where he was rushed to hospital on Monday.

He is Pakistan’s first army chief to be charged with treason. He has pleaded not guilty and dismissed the charges as politically motivated.

“I have fought wars for Pakistan and served my country for 10 years,” Musharraf said on Tuesday in a video message from his hospital bed, claiming that the case against him is “baseless” and that he is being victimized.

“Even my lawyer Salman Safdar is not being heard by the court,” he said. “As for me, a commission can come here, I can give them a statement.”

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Amazon indigenous leaders accuse Brazil of ‘genocide’ policy

Updated 18 January 2020

Amazon indigenous leaders accuse Brazil of ‘genocide’ policy

  • Hundreds of elders gathered this week at Pairacu, deep in the rainforest, to form a united front against Bolsonaro’s environmental policies
  • “We do not accept mining on our lands, loggers, illegal fishermen or hydroelectricity. We are opposed to anything that destroys the forest,” a leader said

PIARACU: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s pledge to open up the Amazon to mining companies was tantamount to “genocide,” indigenous leaders said Friday at a meeting to oppose the government’s environmental policies.
Hundreds of elders gathered this week at Pairacu, deep in the rainforest, to form a united front against Bolsonaro’s environmental policies, which have seen deforestation in the jungle nearly double since the Brazilian leader came to power a year ago.
“Our aim was to join forces and denounce the fact that the Brazilian government’s political policy of genocide, ethnocide and ecocide is under way,” the group said in a draft manifesto drawn up at the end of the summit.
“We do not accept mining on our lands, loggers, illegal fishermen or hydroelectricity. We are opposed to anything that destroys the forest,” the text said.
They also said that “government threats and hate speech” had encouraged violence against Amazon communities and demanded punishment for the murder of indigenous leaders.
At least eight indigenous leaders were killed last year.
Brazil’s leading indigenous chief, Raoni Metuktire, said Thursday he would personally travel to the capital Brasilia to present the meeting’s demands to Congress.
“Over there, I’m going to ask Bolsonaro why he speaks so badly about the indigenous peoples,” said the 89-year-old leader of the Kayapo tribe.
Preliminary data collected by the National Institute for Space Research showed an 85 percent increase in Amazon deforestation last year when compared to 2018.