Pakistan court rejects Musharraf plea for military trial

AFP , Friday 21 Feb 2014

Ahmad Raza Kasuri, attorney of Pakistan's former president and military ruler Pervez Musharraf, briefs the media about the court proceeding outside a court in Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014 (Photo: AP)

A special court in Pakistan hearing treason charges against ex-ruler Pervez Musharraf on Friday rejected his plea for trial in a military court and set a date next month to indict him.

Lawyers of Musharraf had challenged the right of the civilian court in Islamabad to try the former army chief who appeared in person before judges for the first time on Tuesday.

"This application is dismissed," lead judge Faisal Arab said at the end of Friday's hearing.

The three-judge bench ruled that he was no longer in the army and that high treason can be tried exclusively in a special court.

"This decision to try Musharraf in a civilian court is factually wrong. The facts have been twisted," Musharraf's lawyer Ahmad Raza Kasuri told reporters afterwards.

The 70-year-old faces treason charges, which can carry the death penalty, over his imposition of a state of emergency in 2007 while he was president.

The judges set March 11 as the date to indict the former general, who was ordered to appear in person to hear the charges being read out against him.

He was first ordered to appear before the tribunal on December 24, but has missed repeated hearings since then due to bomb scares and health problems that saw him complain of a heart ailment.

Musharraf became the first former army chief to appear in the court on February 18 in a case seen as a test of civilian rule over the country's powerful army.

Musharraf has endured a torrid time since returning to Pakistan in March last year on an ill-fated mission to run in the general election.

Almost as soon as he landed he was barred from contesting the vote and hit with a barrage of legal cases dating back to his 1999-2008 rule.

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