Charges to be framed against Musharraf Jan 1

Islamabad, Dec 24 : A special court in Pakistan will formally frame charges of high treason against ex-president Pervez Musharraf Jan 1, 2014, court officials said Tuesday.

The court was scheduled to begin trial of Musharraf Tuesday for abrogating the constitution. However, the former president could not appear before the judges over security threats, reported Xinhua.

The three-member special court summoned Musharraf to appear on the first day of the trial.

Police said they found a five-kg bomb and two pistols on Musharraf's route to the court.

Musharraf's defence lawyer, Mansoor Ali Khan told the court that his client could not appear because of threats to his life.

The head of the three-member court, Justice Faisal Arab accepted the plea and asked Musharraf's lawyers to file a written request about security threats.

The government's lawyers, however, argued that Musharraf could not be absolved of personal appearance because of the nature of the case.

Musharraf's lawyers sought a two-week adjournment. However, the court adjourned the hearing for a week, until Jan 1. The court also ordered security arrangements for Musharraf on the next hearing.

The court said the former president will be formally charged on the next hearing.

It is the first case in the country's history that a former military ruler faces high treason trial.

Musharraf has been charged with suspending the constitution when he imposed Emergency in November 2007. Legal experts say the charges carry death penalty or life imprisonment.

Musharraf's lawyers tried to stop Tuesday's trial on the plea that the special court has no power to try a former army chief and that only a military court can try him under the Army Act.

The Islamabad High Court, however, rejected the petition Monday and removed all obstacles to Musharraf's trial.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced in June the former military ruler would be tried for high treason for suspending the constitution. Sharif's decision evoked mixed reaction as critics were of the view that Pakistan faces several serious challenges and cannot afford such trial.

Musharraf took over in a bloodless coup when he dismissed the elected government of Nawaz Sharif in 1999.

The 69-year-old former army chief currently lives in his farmhouse in Islamabad after getting bail in three high-profile cases, including in the 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Musharraf resigned in 2008 and went into exile, but returned to Pakistan in March this year to take part in parliamentary elections. However, a court disqualified him from standing in the May elections.

--IANS (Posted on 24-12-2013)

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