Court summoned Pervez Musharraf on May 2
29 March, 2019
A special court hearing the high treason case against former president Pervez Musharraf Thursday summoned the former military dictator on May 2 to record his statement, warning the bench will issue an appropriate order if he fails to appear.
Defending lawyer Salman Safdar said the former president wished to appear in court on May 13. Upon hearing this, the three-member bench headed by Justice Tahira Safdar directed Musharraf to appear before the holy month of Ramazan. “If he can come to court on May 13, he can also appear [before the court] on May 2. If he doesn’t, the court will pass an appropriate order regarding recording his statement,” Justice Tahira said.
Musharraf’s counsel said his client is suffering from a rare disease and his chemotherapy is underway, adding that it is necessary for him to stay in the hospital for eight hours in a day for treatment. He said Musharraf is also suffering from backbone problem after he slipped and fell down in the bathroom.
The lawyer argued that Musharraf’s case should be treated like any other case. “You cannot record a statement under Section 342 in Musharraf’s absence. If the suspect is to be punished, his presence in court is necessary,” he argued. Justice Tahira said the court will hear the new request later. “First, tell us whether your arguments regarding Musharraf’s appearance in the court have completed,” she said.
Returning to the original question of Musharraf’s appearance in court, Justice Tahira asked the prosecution lawyer what options the court has if a suspect does not appear in court in such a case. The prosecution’s lawyer replied that in the absence of the suspect, his lawyer’s appearance can be counted as his appearance in court. “If the lawyer is also declining to appear before the court then what happens?” Justice Tahira asked. “In such a case, under Section 9 of the special court rules, the court itself can appoint a lawyer,” the prosecutor responded.
The court also handed over a questionnaire under Section 342 to Musharraf’s counsel, who requested the court to provide a complete record of the high treason case against his client. To this, the court asked the defence counsel to submit a proper application in this regard.
Suleman Safdar said his client is not an absconder, and in fact the federal government allowed him to travel abroad for medical treatment. When Safdar mentioned the Supreme Court’s remarks likening Musharraf to British dictator Oliver Cromwell, the special court told him to focus on the case.
The counsel opposed the option to record the former dictator’s statement through Skype application. He also opposed the trial option in the absence of his client.
Meanwhile, Musharraf’s counsel submitted a separate application to the court seeking orders for cabinet approval to continue the trial proceeding. The former government had initiated a case against his client without permission of the cabinet.
“A high treason case can only be registered by the federal government, which includes the federal cabinet, not the interior ministry. The trial is illegal has no legal standing,” the counsel maintained, adding that the trial cannot take place without the approval of the federal cabinet.