Musharraf moved to hospital ahead of court appearance

Islamabad, Jan 2: Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf was Thursday moved to a hospital ahead of his appearance at a special court where he is being tried for treason.

The former army strongman was taken to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi “after suddenly developing a medical complication while en route to the special court”, Dawn online reported.

The judges of the special court announced a break till 4 p.m. after being informed of the sudden development by DIG Security Jan Mohammad, adding that an order would be issued after the end of the break.

The court had Wednesday warned Musharraf to appear before it, failing which arrest warrants would be issued against him.

Earlier Thursday, the court had ordered that he should appear it before 11.30 a.m., according to the Dawn report.

Prior to that, the court also had to take a short recess after Musharraf’s lawyer Anwar Mansoor staged a walk-out citing lack of sleep due to alleged disturbances outside the door of his residence Wednesday night.

This apart, Sharifuddin Pirzada, the head of Musharraf’s defence team, alleged that chief prosecutor Akram Shaikh had hurled threats to him through Ibrahim Satti, another lawyer in the former president’s defence team.

Musharraf had failed Wednesday for the second time in 10 days to appear before the three-member bench and the court adjourned the proceedings for a day, Xinhua reported.

The government had initiated treason charges against the former military president for suspending, subverting and abrogating the Constitution, imposing an emergency in the country in November 2007 and detaining judges of the superior courts. Legal experts say the charges carry death penalty or life imprisonment.

The court had summoned Musharraf to formally frame charges of high treason against him, but his defence lawyers told the court that the former president could not appear because of threats to his life.

The Islamabad police chief had told the court that tight security arrangements have been made for the former president and that nearly 1,000 security personnel have been deployed on the route from Musharraf’s house to the court.

He also said a bullet-proof vehicle had been provided for Musharraf, but said the Islamabad police did not have bomb-proof vehicles.

The police earlier claimed the arrest of two suspects from a roadside restaurant on Musharraf’s route early Wednesday.

They had also said that they had recovered explosives near Musharraf’s house and on the route to court over the past few days.

During Wednesday’s court proceedings, Musharraf’s lawyers raised objections to the formation and powers of the special court and argued that the prime minister could not nominate judges for a court.

The court said it would give a ruling on its composition and jurisdiction Thursday.

The defence lawyers also requested the court to delay the hearing by five weeks but their request was turned down.

They had earlier tried to stop the trial on the plea that the special court had no power to try a former army chief and that a military court can try him under the army act.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had announced in June the high treason case against the former military ruler would be initiated for suspending the constitution. The decision had evoked mixed reactions as critics were of the view that Pakistan faced serious challenges and could not afford such a trial.

Musharraf had taken over in a bloodless coup when he had dismissed the government of Nawaz Sharif in 1999.

The 70-year-old former army chief currently lives in his farmhouse in Islamabad after getting bail in three high profile cases, including the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Musharraf, who had resigned in 2008 and gone into exile, returned to Pakistan in March this year to take part in parliamentary elections. However, a court disqualified him from standing in the May elections.

IANS