Pakistan's Musharraf arrives at court for first time
18 February 2014, 12:21
Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf arrived at court on Tuesday for the first time to face charges in a treason case he has denounced as a score-settling exercise by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The 70-year-old arrived in a heavily protected cavalcade at the National Library in Islamabad where the court has been holding hearings, an AFP photographer said.
No former military leader has appeared in court before and the trial is seen as a test of the supremacy of civilian rule in a country governed for more than half its history by the army after three coups.
Musharraf faces treason charges, which can carry the death penalty, over his suspension of the constitution and imposition of a state of emergency in 2007 while he was president.
He was first ordered before the tribunal on December 24 but had missed repeated hearings since then due to bomb scares and health issues that saw him complain of a heart problem.
Musharraf has challenged the civilian court's right to try a former army chief, saying he is entitled to be dealt with by a military tribunal.
He has accused Prime Minister Sharif, who he ousted in a 1999 coup, of carrying out a 'vendetta' and has asked for permission to go abroad for medical treatment, which has been refused.
Pakistan treason court demands Musharraf medical report
A special court set up to try Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf for treason on Monday demanded a medical report after he missed another hearing following a heart complaint. The 70-year-old was rushed to a military hospital on Thursday after falling ill while being taken to hear treason charges against him at the tribunal in Islamabad.
Musharraf spent a fifth day in the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi, which neighbours Islamabad, missing the hearing as his lawyers had said he would on Sunday.
The three-judge bench adjourned the case to Tuesday and asked for a report on his condition to be submitted to explain his continued absence from proceedings.
Musharraf's camp says the treason allegations, which relate to his imposition of emergency rule in November 2007, are politically motivated and his lawyers have challenged the authority of the tribunal.
Doctors treating Musharraf have sent medical reports to experts in Britain to determine whether he should be flown abroad for treatment.
The ex-dictator's sudden health scare was met with scepticism from some observers and feverish media speculation that his departure from Pakistan on medical grounds -- possibly to either Saudi Arabia or the UAE -- could be imminent.
Some analysts believe such a move is necessary to head off a potentially destabilising clash between the government and the all-powerful military.
Aside from the treason allegations, Musharraf also faces trial over the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the death of a rebel leader, a deadly raid on a radical mosque and the detention of judges.
Musharraf's trial is country's internal matter - Pakistan
Pakistan said Friday that the trial of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf on charge of high treason is the country's internal matter.
The comments from the foreign ministry came amidst rumors that Musharraf could leave Pakistan under a deal to be brokered by friendly countries.
Local media has reported the Saudi Foreign Minister who is scheduled to arrive in Islamabad on Monday could discuss Musharraf' s trial.
Saudi Arabia had brokered an exile deal for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after Musharraf dismissed his government in 1999.
The Foreign Ministry however dispelled the impression that the visit of the Saudi Foreign Minister is linked to Musharraf's trial.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tasneem Aslam told weekly briefing that Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal will be paying a two-day visit to Pakistan from Monday.
'The visit is part of routine interaction between the two brotherly countries,' she said.
Musharraf, who was admitted to a military hospital after he fell sick on the way to court, could be going abroad for treatment, local media reported on Thursday.
Musharraf suffered from heart problem when he was heading to the court hearing on his high treason case, his defence lawyer Ahmed Reza Kasuri said.
Defence Minister Khwaja Asif said the government has not made any decision to send Musharraf abroad, adding however that the former President could be sent abroad under the court's order.
Voice of Russia, Xinhua, AFP
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