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Pakistan

Musharraf moves SC against special court’s verdict in high treason case

ISLAMABAD: Former president Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf on Thursday submitted an appeal in the Supreme Court against the special court’s decision that handed him a death sentence under Article 6 of the Constitution in the high treason case against him.

In a 90-page criminal appeal, the former president named as respondents the federation through Federal Secretary Interior Yousaf Naseem Khokhar, the special court and the state of Pakistan. He called for the order of the special court to be set aside.

It merits a mention here that the appeal was filed just days after the Lahore High Court (LHC) quashed the high treason verdict against him, declaring the formation of the special court as “unconstitutional”.

On Dec 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 Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1898, the special court’s judgment 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 include: a delay (noticeable and unexplained in initiating high treason case), no offense of high treason made out, prosecutorial misconduct and discriminatory/selective prosecution (aiders and abettors), 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, mode, manner and language of the judgment, 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 initiation 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.

LHC DECLARES SPECIAL COURT ‘UNCONSTITUTIONAL’

The LHC on Monday declared the formation of the special court bench – which heard the treason case against Musharraf – as “unconstitutional” as it announced its verdict on a set of petitions filed by the former president, challenging multiple cases against him, including his conviction in the case.

In its detailed judgment, the bench also ruled that the treason case against Musharraf “was not prepared in accordance with the law”.

Musharraf had been sentenced to death by a special court on December 17, 2019, after six years of hearing the case, which was filed against him by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government after it assumed office in 2013.

In his petition filed in December last year, Musharraf had asked the LHC to set aside the special court’s verdict 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.

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