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Pakistan civilian court can try ex-President Musharraf for high treason

English.news.cn   2014-02-21 16:00:41

ISLAMABAD, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- A Pakistani court ruled on Friday that a civilian court can try former military chief General (retd) Pervez Musharraf in a high treason case.

Musharraf's case will not be heard by the army act and a three- member special court has the jurisdiction to put the former military preident on trial for abrogating the constitution, the court aid said in its ruling.

The former president had challenged jurisdiction of the special court and his defense lawyers had argued that only a military court can try Musharraf under army act.

Musharraf's lawyers had earlier insisted that their client had imposed emergency when he was the army chief and that a military court can only try him under military act.

The ruling, however, said that Musharraf is now a retired man and he is no more a subject of the military laws.

The court also ruled that the military act mentioned by Musharraf defense team has already been declared null and void in 1981.

After delivering the verdict, the special court summoned Musharraf to appear on March 11 to formally indict him, lawyers said.

The court's verdict has now removed all legal obstacle for Musharraf's trial in the high treason case that would be the first ever trial of a former military chief in Pakistan's nearly 66-year history.

Legal experts say that if found guilty Musharraf could either face death penalty or life imprisonment under Pakistani laws.

Musharraf had already got bails in three high profile cases, including the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. She was killed in a suicide bomb attack and gunshots during Musharraf's rule in Rawalpindi.

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

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

Musharraf, who had resigned in 2008 as president and had gone into exile, returned to Pakistan in March this year to run in parliamentary elections. However, a court disqualified him from standing in the May elections.

Musharraf briefly appeared before the three-member special court for the first time to avoid a possible arrest on Tuesday.

The court had issued bailable arrest warrant for Musharraf on Jan. 31 after he did not appear on previous hearings despite several orders. His lawyers had earlier claimed that he could not come to the court due to poor health condition.

Musharraf was taken to a military hospital last month when he was heading to the court in Islamabad. He is still under treatment there. A medical report suggested that Musharraf has refused to get treatment in Pakistan and wants to go abroad. However the court had earlier ruled that he will not be allowed to go abroad for treatment.

The government has also rejected his request to remove his name from the list of those who are banned from leaving the country.

Editor: Yang Yi
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