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Pakistan's Musharraf fails to appear in court for "security threats"

English.news.cn   2014-01-01 16:36:40            

ISLAMABAD, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday again failed to appear before a special court for a hearing in the high treason case against him, with his lawyers citing security threats.

The three-member bench had summoned Musharraf to formally frame charges of high treason against him. However, his defence lawyers told the court that the former president could not appear for lack of security.

The police earlier claimed arrest of two suspects from a roadside restaurant on Musharraf's route to court. They also said they had recovered explosives near Musharraf's house and on the route to court.

Senior police officers told the court that a bullet-proof vehicle had been provided for Musharraf, but adding the police don 't have bomb-proof vehicle.

Justice Faisal Arab, who heads the special court, was unhappy at the absence of Musharraf and said the court would issue fresh orders for his appearance. He remarked that courts continue to operate during wars, adding Musharraf cannot avoid the hearing because of security threats.

Musharraf's defence lawyer, Ahmed Raza Kasuri, told reporters that security remains a major issue that stops his client from personal appearance in the court. He said that one kg of explosive materials was found near Musharraf's farmhouse Wednesday morning.

Musharraf also did not appear for a previous hearing on Dec. 24.

The government had initiated treason charges against the former military president for suspending, subverting and abrogating the Constitution, imposing an emergency in the country in November 2007 and detaining judges of the superior courts. Legal experts say the charges carry death penalty or life imprisonment.

Musharraf's lawyers raised objections at the court and said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had personally nominated judges and had bypassed the cabinet.

The lawyers have also requested the court to delay the hearing for five weeks. They had earlier tried to stop the trial on the plea that the special court has no power to try a former army chief and that a military court can try him under the army act.

Nawaz Sharif announced in June the initiation of the high treason case against the former military president. The decision had evoked mixed reaction as critics were of the view that Pakistan faces several serious challenges and cannot afford such a trial for the moment.

Musharraf had taken over power in a bloodless coup when he dismissed the government of Nawaz Sharif in 1999.

The 70-year-old former army chief currently lives in his farmhouse in Islamabad after getting bails in three high profile cases including the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Musharraf, who resigned in 2008 and had since gone into exile, returned to Pakistan in March last year to take part in parliamentary elections. However, a court disqualified him from standing in the May elections.

Editor: Shen Qing
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