Pak court stops special court from announcing verdict in Musharraf treason case on Thursday
Islamabad: A Pakistani court on Wednesday stopped a special court from announcing its judgement in the high treason case against former military dictator General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, according to a media report.
The special court on November 19 concluded the trial proceedings in the case against Musharraf for declaring a state of emergency on November 3, 2007, and had said that a verdict would be announced on November 28.
A three-member larger bench of the Islamabad High Court - comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani - on Wednesday stopped the special court from issuing the ruling in the case against 76-year-old Musharraf, Dawn News reported.
The order came on a petition filed by the Pakistan government which had requested the court to set aside the special court's decision to announce its judgement in the high treason case on November 28.
Musharraf, who is living in Dubai in self-exile, also challenged the special court's decision in the Lahore High Court on Saturday and sought suspension of his trial in absentia. His counsel contended that the reserving of the verdict on November 19 was "unconstitutional and void".
"For reasons to be recorded later, we allow writ petition (...) filed by the Ministry of Interior," the court said in its brief order on Wednesday, setting aside the special court's decision to reserve its judgement in the case.
The court also directed the government to notify a new prosecutor or a team of prosecution in the treason case by December 5.
In addition, the special court has been ordered to fix a date "for affording a reasonable opportunity of hearing" to the notified prosecutor or prosecution team as well as the counsel appointed for Musharraf.
If found guilty, Musharraf could be sentenced to death or imprisonment for life.
As Pakistan President, Musharraf imposed emergency and suspended the Constitution in 2007, which according to Article 6 of the Constitution was an act of high treason.
The previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government had filed the treason case against the former president in 2013 over the imposition of extra-constitutional emergency in 2007.
Musharraf became Pakistan's first army chief to be charged with treason when he was indicted on March 31, 2014. He pleaded not guilty to five charges and dismissed them as being politically motivated.
The hearing in the high-profile case was stalled after Musharraf left Pakistan for Dubai for medical treatment on March 18, 2016 with a commitment to come back. He managed to go abroad after his name was removed from the no-fly list on the orders of the Supreme Court.
A few months later, however, the special court declared him a "proclaimed offender" and ordered the confiscation of his property owing to his no-show at the hearings.
He has repeatedly refused to return to Pakistan citing security reasons.
Musharraf seized power in 1999 by toppling the government of prime minister Nawaz Sharif and ruled until 2008 when he was forced to step down.