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High treason case: SC offers Musharraf three options to record statement

March 26, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday proposed three options for former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf to record his statement in a high treason case.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Yahya Afridi, heard a petition filed by Taufeeq Asif, the ex-president of Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi Bench’s bar association.

The petitioner pointed out that the proceedings of the treason case being heard by a special court since 2014 had come to a halt since the former Army chief had not returned to the country since 2016. The former president was indicted in the high treason case for suspending the Constitution on November 3, 2007.

During the course of the proceedings, the chief justice remarked one option was that Musharraf should either appear on the next hearing or record his statement via a video link and as a third option Musharraf’s lawyer Salman Safdar should answer on his behalf.

Justice Khosa asked: “If someone avoiding court proceedings with a purpose…so the court is completely helpless in the matter and could do nothing about it?” Musharraf’s counsel Salman Safdar, however, rejected all the options, saying the defendant was too ill to answer questions via video link or in person.

The Deputy attorney general (DAG) pointed out that the court also had the option of sending a commission to question the former president. To which, Justice Khosa remarked Musharraf will go to hospital before the commission reached there. His doctors were not even going to let the commission meet him, he added.

The DAG said the government had previously tried to bring Musharraf back to the country through extradition and Interpol but could not succeed on both occasions. The chief justice remarked he was not surprised as foreign governments did not usually give a person up if there was a chance that they may be awarded death penalty.

He remarked the special court handling the treason case would decide on how the statement should be recorded, saying if that court could not decide upon this in the next hearing on March 28, the Supreme Court would take the decision.

The counsel for the petitioner said Musharraf did not take the court seriously. Later, the hearing of the case was adjourned till April 1.