Islamabad, July 24 (IANS) A special court of Pakistan has adjourned the hearing in a high treason case against former President Pervez Musharraf for a month after the government failed to appoint a defence counsel to represent him.
Acting Law and Justice Secretary Arshad Farooq Fahim told the three-judge Bench on Tuesday the Law Ministry had shortlisted six lawyers in the case but they were either unwilling to represent Musharraf, demanding excessive fees or needed time to study the case, Dawn newspaper reported on Wednesday.
On June 12, the court had rejected Musharraf’s plea for adjournment of hearing on medical grounds and decided to conclude the trial even in his absence.
The court also cancelled Musharraf’s right of defence due to his repeated non-appearance before the court. It had also barred Musharraf’s attorney Salman Safdar from arguing on his behalf and ordered the Law Ministry to appoint a defence lawyer for him.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government had registered the treason case against Musharraf in 2013 over the former President’s imposition of extra-constitutional emergency in November 2007, which led to house confinement of several superior court judges and sacking of over 100 judges.
Musharraf left for Dubai in 2016 to “seek medical treatment” and has not returned since. Earlier in March, he was admitted to a hospital in Dubai after suffering a reaction from a rare disease for which he is under treatment.
He is said to be suffering from cardiac amyloidosis (congestive heart failure), chronic kidney disease (high creatinine in the renal system), excessive somnolence (hypersomnia), spinal injury and fracture.
The special court had declared him a proclaimed offender and ordered confiscation of his property due to his no-show.
On April 1, the Supreme Court had directed the special court to proceed with the trial on the next date of hearing (May 2). If the former President surrendered and appeared before it, he would be entitled to record his statement.
But he failed to turn up and his lawyer requested the court to delay the proceedings until improvement in Musharraf’s health. The Bench rejected the plea, saying proceedings could no longer be halted due to the accused’s illness.