High treason case: Musharraf moves SC to suspend special court’s verdict

ISLAMABAD: Former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf on Thursday submitted an appeal in the Supreme Court against a special court’s verdict that found him guilty of high treason and handed him a death sentence under Article 6 of the Constitution.

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In a 90-page criminal appeal, the former military ruler named as respondents the federation through the secretary of the interior ministry, the special court and the state. He called for the order of the special court to be set aside.

The appeal comes just days after the Lahore High Court declared the formation of the special court as “unconstitutional”.

On December 17 last year, a special court handed a death sentence to Musharraf in a verdict split 2-1. It was the first time in Pakistan’s history that a military chief was declared guilty of high treason and handed a death sentence.

In his appeal against the verdict submitted today, Musharraf said that based on the grounds of the application, since the trial had been conducted and completed “in sheer violation” of the Constitution and the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898, the special court’s judgement should be set aside.

“Any other remedy that the honourable court deems fit and proper may also be granted,” the appeal added.

As per the preliminary submissions: “In a nutshell, it is the case of the appellant (Musharraf) that he was being tried for an alleged constitutional crime in an entirely unconstitutional manner.”

The grounds for the application challenging the special court’s verdict included: a delay (noticeable and unexplained in initiating high treason case), no offence of high treason made out, prosecutorial misconduct and discriminatory/selective prosecution, complaint filed without “federal government/cabinet” approval, coram non-judice — the special court was not constituted in the appropriate manner, special court had concluded the proceedings without examining the accused, the mode, manner and language of the judgement, status as absconder and trial in absentia, right to counsel and judicial bias.

According to Musharraf’s appeal, the prosecution’s case had suffered from an “admitted, noticeable and unexplained delay” of over five years from the date of the alleged offence and the intiation of proceedings.

“That the malice of the federal government is apparent from the ‘selective’, ‘discriminatory’ and ‘biased’ nature of the investigation and prosecution,” the appeal stated.

Miscellaneous applications attached in the appeal asked the Supreme Court to grant Musharraf a right of audience in his physical absence in the “interest of justice” and called for the judgement to be suspended in the “interest of justice and fair play”.

Special court ‘unconstitutional’

On Monday, while ruling on Musharraf’s petitions against the special court’s verdict, the LHC declared that the formation of the special court was “unconstitutional” and that the treason case against the former president was not prepared in accordance with the law.

According to both the federal government and Musharraf’s lawyer, after the high court’s ruling, the verdict issued by the special court stands void.

Musharraf was sentenced to death by a special court in Islamabad six years after the trial started. The case was filed by the PML-N government against Musharraf for suspending the Constitution on November 3, 2007, when he imposed emergency in the country.

In his petitions following the damning verdict, Musharraf had asked the LHC to set aside the special court’s decision for being illegal, without jurisdiction and unconstitutional for violating Articles 10-A, 4, 5, 10 and 10-A of the Constitution. He also sought suspension of the verdict till a decision on his petition is made.

The former military chief is currently in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. He was admitted to a hospital following the deterioration of his health last month.

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