News Desk |
The former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s continuous failure to appear before the special court conducting treason trial has led the court to rule that the trial would be concluded in his absence.
On Wednesday, the three-member bench headed by Justice Tahira Safdar decided to take proceedings forward and conclude the trial in the absence of the former army chief. The court observed that proceedings could no longer be halted due to the accused’s illness.
Importantly, the bench has declared that Musharraf has lost the right to engage a counsel unless he surrenders.
The counsel said that Musharraf was “fighting for his life” and lost weight, adding that “he is on a wheelchair and cannot walk”. Subsequently, he once again requested the court to grant Musharraf another exemption
Currently, the ex-president resides in Dubai and has been unable to attend hearings in Pakistan as he is reportedly receiving medical treatment for a “rare disease”.
“In view of the established principle that a trial could not be held in abeyance or could be adjourned for an indefinite period couple with findings of the Supreme Court, whereby it was held that the accused being fugitive from law, thus loses his right to audience, also lost to have an advocate appointed to defend him unless he surrenders himself before the court,” the court’s written order read.
“As decided by the Supreme Court, the learned counsel presently representing the accused neither could represent him nor could defend him [accused] with the exception the accused appears and surrenders himself before the court,” the order stated.
“In the view of the described state of facts and in compliance of the decision given by Supreme Court for further proceedings of the trial a counsel is to be appointed to defend the accused as required by the Section 9 of the Act 1976. The Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of Pakistan, is directed to submit a panel of advocate for the purpose along with the package of fee to be paid to the advocate, so appointed to enable this court to further proceed with the case, as required,” it added.
Musharraf ‘fighting for his life’: Counsel
The decision to conduct trial in absentia came after Musharraf’s counsel informed the court that the former president and army chief was physically and mentally unfit to return to the country.
The counsel said that Musharraf was “fighting for his life” and lost weight, adding that “he is on a wheelchair and cannot walk”. Subsequently, he once again requested the court to grant Musharraf another exemption.
Admitting that he was embarrassed to repeatedly seek adjournments, the counsel sought permission to record Musharraf’s statement via video link. He said Musharraf’s health had deteriorated sharply over recent months.
However, the bench decided to conclude in Musharraf’s absence. The court will now resume hearing on June 27.