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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Updated 25 September 2020

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  • The transport plane was carrying a total of 28 passengers when it crashed, including 21 military students and seven crew
  • The town of Chuhuiv, where the crash occurred, is 100 kilometers west of the front line with the pro-Russian separatists

KIEV: At least 22 people including military cadets were killed and two others seriously injured Friday when a Ukranian air force plane crashed near Kharkiv in the east of the country, the interior ministry said.
“Twenty-two people died,” Deputy Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko told AFP, adding that “the search for two other people is continuing.”
The transport plane was carrying a total of 28 passengers when it crashed, including 21 military students and seven crew, he said.
“It’s a shock,” he added. “At the moment it’s impossible to establish the cause” of the crash.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he would travel to the region on Saturday.
“We are urgently creating a commission to investigate all the circumstances and causes of the tragedy,” he wrote on Facebook.
The Antonov-26 transport aircraft crashed at around 8:50 p.m. local time (17:50 GMT), two kilometers (1 mile) from the Chuhuiv military air base, the emergency services said.
The plane caught fire after the crash and was extingushed after one hour.
The town of Chuhuiv is around 30 kilometers southeast of Kharkiv and 100 kilometers west of the front line with the pro-Russian separatists.