Monday January 30, 2023

Musharraf’s UK lawyer criticises special court verdict

“A court does not, nor should it ever, have the power to order the desecration of a body,” said Cadman

By Web Desk
December 20, 2019

Former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s lawyer on Friday said that the special court’s order of publicly hanging the corpse of his client was a total disregard for the rule of law and any standard of common decency.

In a statement, Barrister Toby Cadman of the United Kingdom, an associate counsel at The Guernica Centre for International Justice and former representative of former president Pervez Musharraf at the United Nations, condemned the observation made in the verdict.

The special court formed to hear a high treason case against former president Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday sentenced him to death for imposing a state of emergency on November 3, 2007.

The case had been heard by a special bench comprising Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth of the Peshawar High Court, Justice Shahid Karim of the Lahore High Court and Justice Nazar Akbar of the Sindh High Court (SHC).

In the detailed verdict issued on Thursday, Justice Seth had stated in paragraph 66 of the order: “We direct Law Enforcement Agencies to strive their level best to apprehend the fugitive/convict and to ensure that the punishment is inflicted as per law and if found dead, his corpse be dragged to the D-Chowk, Islamabad, Pakistan and be hanged for 03, days.”

“A court does not, nor should it ever, have the power to order the desecration of a body,” said Cadman on the ruling issued against his client.

The legal practitioner expressed concern that in the verdict no mention was made of a re-trial which is a requirement as per international law, “and therefore an obligation for Pakistan”.

Cadman said the ruling against the former military dictator is “unprecedented”, adding that the ordering of the public desecration of a body “is an action that is beyond the comprehension of most, both morally, and legally”.

“Such actions have no part in any democratic society, much less one in the 21st Century that ascribes to the rule of law, and in making such an order, the Court may be interpreted as making the issue ‘personal’, rather than following the principle that ‘justice is blind’,” said Cadman.

Musharraf’s counsel said orders such as the one against his client “run the risk of Pakistan being seen to take a backwards step, rather than building on the progress that has been recently made” with regards to judicial reform.

Cadman said the judicial system should not be targeting individuals, “nor should it be seen as an opportunity to settle personal scores”. He urged that the order be “immediately repealed before it becomes a permanent stain on a developing, reforming, and progressing judicial system”.