The special court trying Gen. Musharraf for high treason on Monday granted another exemption to him from personal appearance.
After the defence did not provide any update on former Pakistan President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s health, the special court directed the authorities at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) to produce a medical report by 11.30 a.m. on Tuesday.
Gen. Musharraf was admitted to AFIC last week after he developed a heart problem on his way to the court.
The special court trying Gen. Musharraf for high treason on Monday granted another exemption to the former military ruler from making an appearance and also said it did not find it appropriate to issue non-bailable warrants as demanded by the prosecution. Justice Faisal Arab, who is heading the three-member court, said that it is not a case that the accused had disappeared, he was at his residence and two cases of exemption were already granted. It’s a known fact that he is in hospital, he stated.
Gen. Musharraf’s lawyers had already announced that he was not going to appear today. When proceedings began, defence counsel Anwar Mansoor said he had no clue about Gen. Musharraf and he was not informed about his condition when the court asked him about his health condition. Senior Defence counsel Sharifuddin Pirzada then said Gen. Musharraf was admitted to a “clinic” and was receiving treatment.
Mr. Mansoor continued his arguments on why the Code of Criminal Procedure does not apply to this trial.
The prosecution then made its submissions, countering the contention that the Code of Criminal Procedure did not apply to the proceedings in this court.
Special public prosecutor Akram Sheikh said this was not a court of absolute jurisdiction and it had a purpose. He said there were intra court appeals pending against the Islamabad High Court order dismissing all the petitions challenging the constitution of the court, alleging bias by the judges and against his own appointment, which he said was not mentioned while filing these applications in this court.
The special court had no plenary powers and the trial cannot be adjourned due to the illness of an accused. There was no provision for exemption under law and the accused was perpetually flouting the orders of this court, Mr. Sheikh submitted, demanding that non-bailable warrants be issued against Gen. Musharraf.
There is nothing on record suggesting physical disability to appear in the court. A person cannot seek a hideout in the AFIC, he proclaimed. Also, if someone does not surrender, he was not entitled to be represented unless the court appoints a lawyer. He remarked that the defence was representing a fugitive from law.
The defence reacted vociferously to all this, prompting Justice Arab to intervene and say that this amounted to interrupting court proceedings. No cross talk, he warned. Mr. Sheikh said the prosecution would have agreed to an exemption from proceedings if the accused had come once and had the charges read out to him.
Later, when pressed by the court, the defence counsels said that Gen. Musharraf was still admitted to hospital and was not likely to be discharged today. Lawyers for the former President told the media that they too were not allowed to meet their client.
Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court rejected a petition seeking to restrain Gen. Musharraf from going abroad for medical treatment. The court asked the petitioner, Shuhada Foundation, to approach the trial court.
The government has already stated that it was not about to remove Gen. Musharraf’s name from the Exit Control List or permit him to travel abroad.