SC orders Musharraf to appear before special court or lose right of defence - GulfToday

SC orders Musharraf to appear before special court or lose right of defence

MUSH-750

Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said that a trial becomes unconstitutional in the absence of a suspect.


Tariq Butt / Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the country's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf to appear before a special tribunal hearing a treason case against him or forfeit his rights to a defence.

The SC said on Monday it was giving Musharraf a last chance to voluntarily appear before the tribunal. The top court said it acted on a petition by attorney Taufeeq Asif.

It ordered that the special court would not give any adjournment. It set May 2 for Musharraf to appear before the special tribunal otherwise he will lose the right of defence. An absconder has no rights to avail, it said.

Earlier, Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa remarked that if Musharraf did not appear before the court despite giving commitments to do so, something should be done.

The apex court was hearing a petition filed by a lawyer, Taufeeq Asif, who pointed ut that the proceedings of the treason case — being heard by a special court since 2014 against the former dictator - had come to a halt as Musharraf had not returned to Pakistan from abroad since 2016.

Justice Khosa asked whether the former president had given assurances that he would appear in court. "Despite the assurances, if Musharraf doesn't come back, what would happen then?" the top judge asked his counsel, adding that something should be done if he did not return.

Musharraf's lawyer Salman Safdar avoided to give a personal guarantee and said that the former president himself wanted to come back and record a statement. He added that May 13 had been given as the date of Musharraf's return from abroad.

Justice Khosa said that a trial becomes unconstitutional in the absence of a suspect but if the accused doesn't appear on purpose, he cannot be allowed to take advantage of the situation.

The prosecutor told the court that the case was not being heard in the absence of the former president, adding that Musharraf was present in the court when he had been indicted. He said that after Musharraf was summoned, the former president had given assurances of appearing before the court.

The treason case against Musharraf was brought by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's government charging the military ruler with treason for imposing a state of emergency in 2007.