Musharraf appears before Pak court for treason trial
Former Pakistan military ruler General Pervez Musharraf today appeared before a special court here conducting his treason trial, having skipped numerous hearings earlier. Musharraf, 70, was driven to the court in a long motorcade from the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) Rawalpindi amidst tight security of over 1,200 security personnel deployed along the route.
His 17-vehicle cavalcade included a bullet-proof car, pilot vehicles and an ambulance. Over 400 personnel were also deployed at the court premises. A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Faisal Arab, has been formed by the government to try the former dictator on charges of high treason for imposing emergency in 2007.
This is the first time in Pakistan’s history that a former military dictator is facing trial for treason. If convicted, Musharraf could face life imprisonment or death penalty. The former president faces treason charges under Article 6 for suspending, subverting and abrogating the Constitution, imposing an emergency in the country and detaining judges of the superior courts.
Musharraf had taken ill and was rushed to the AFIC on January 2 when he was being transported under heavy guard to the special court. He has since been admitted in the hospital. His trial is taking place at the National Library here, which is a heavily secured ‘Red Zone’ in Pakistan that houses all important institutions like the Prime Minister’s House, Supreme Court and the Diplomatic Enclave.
Prior to Musharraf’s arrival, the Bomb Disposal Squad had carried out a thorough check inside the court premises and jammers were installed. Earlier in the day, the special court had reserved its verdict for conducting his treason trial under the Army Act. The court had summoned him today warning that a non-bailable arrest warrant would be issued if he fails to turn up.
Justice Arab had asked Musharraf’s counsel when his client would appear before the court. On this, counsel Anwar Mansoor replied his client would appear whenever the security officials give him clearance. He said security officials would decide the time of his appearance, therefore, he (counsel) could not inform the court about the exact time.
Confusion had prevailed prior to his appearance. Musharraf’s lawyer said the former army chief was sitting inside his vehicle, but SSP Islamabad is not taking over. Court then summoned a representative of Interior Ministry and asked him to ensure that police brings him.