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Musharraf lawyers challenge treason charge

Judges defer decision on indictment after former Pakistan PM's legal team says he cannot be tried in a civilian court.

Last updated: 18 Feb 2014 15:50
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Musharraf took power in a 1999 coup and ruled Pakistan for nearly a decade before stepping down in 2008 [AP]

Judges in Pakistan have failed to reach a decision on charging Pakistan's former president, Pervez Musharraf, with high treason after his lawyers challenged whether a civilian court had jurisdiction.

Musharraf on Tuesday arrived in Islamabad in a heavily protected convoy for his first appearance in court since his arrest and subsequent home detention last year.

However, judges in the case postponed a decision on whether to indict him after the defence argued that the civilian court did not have jurisdiction as the allegations against Musharraf arise from when he was the chief of Pakistan's armed forces.

Musharraf has appeared before the court to prove that he believes in the rule of law, and he faced the judges with the utmost humility.

Ahmed Qasuri
, Musharraf's lawyer

It also called the legal process a sham and challenged the objectivity of the judges hearing the case as well as the way the legal panel was formed.

The chief judge, Faysal Arab, said if the court decides it has jurisdiction, Musharraf can be called to court again.

Speaking after the hearing, Ahmed Qasuri, a lawyer defending Musharraf, said his client's appearance showed that he had respect for the court.

"Musharraf has appeared before the court to prove that he believes in the rule of law, and he faced the judges with the utmost humility," Qasuri said.

The high treason case relates to Musharraf's decision in 2007 to declare a state of emergency and detain a number of judges including the country's chief justice.

Feeling good

Musharraf missed two previous appearances in the proceedings, which started on December 24, 2013, due to security scares and because he was hospitalised in early January after complaining of chest pains on the way to the Islamabad courthouse.

His failure to appear in court before Tuesday sparked speculation that he would try to use health problems as an excuse to leave the country.

Musharraf asked to be allowed to go abroad for treatment, but his request was rejected and on Tuesday he told AP news agency that he was feeling "good".

Musharraf gives his first interview since being released from house arrest

Musharraf took power in a 1999 coup and ruled Pakistan for nearly a decade until he became extremely unpopular and was forced to step down in 2008.

He later left the country and went into self-imposed exile until 2013, when he returned to take part in nationwide elections.

Musharraf's court appearance is viewed as a blow to Pakistan's powerful military as the country has undergone three military-led coups since 1947.

Judges have adjourned the court until Friday.

479

Source:
AP
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