Jan 1, 2014, 1:24 PM
News Code: 80975977
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Pakistan ex-president Musharraf fails to appear in court

Islamabad, Jan 1, IRNA - Former Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf, again failed on Wednesday to appear before a special court, hearing high treason case against him, over security threats, his defence lawyers said.

The three-member bench had summoned Musahrraf to formally frame charges of high treason against him however his defence lawyers told the court that the former president could not appear over lack of security.

The police earlier claimed arrest of two suspects from a roadside restaurant on Musharrf’s route, saying they had recovered explosives near Musharraf’s house and on his route to court.

Senior police officers told the court that a bullet-proof vehicle had been provided for Musharraf. They however said the police have no bomb-proof vehicle.

Justice Faisal Arab, who heads the special court, was unhappy with the absence of Musharraf and said the court would issue fresh orders for his appearance. He remarked that courts continue to operate during wars, adding that Musharraf cannot avoid the hearing because of security threats.

Musharraf’s defence lawyer, Ahmed Raza Kasuri, told reporters that security remains a major issue that stops his client from appearance in the court. He said that one kilogram of explosives was found near Musharraf’s farmhouse this morning.

Musharraf has also not appeared in his previous hearing on December 24.

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.

Musharraf’s lawyers raised objections at the court and said the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had personally nominated judges and had bypassed the cabinet.

The defence lawyers also requested the court to delay the hearing for five weeks. They had earlier tried to stop the trial on the plea that the special court has no power to try a former army chief and that a military court can try him under the army act.

Nawaz Sharif had announced in June to initiate the high treason case against the former military president for suspension of the constitution, the decision had evoked mixed reaction as critics were of the view that Pakistan faces several serious challenges and cannot afford such 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 bails in three high profile cases including the 2007 assassination of former PM Benazir Bhutto.

Musharraf, who had resigned in 2008 and had gone into exile, returned to Pakistan in March 2013 to take part in parliamentary elections. However, a court disqualified him from standing in the May elections.