–Defence counsel says former president cannot travel owing to his poor health
ISLAMABAD: A special court on Thursday accepted former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf’s request to postpone the hearing of a treason trial against him until after the month of Ramzan owing to his poor health.
A three-member bench headed by Justice Tahira Safdar adjourned the hearing till June 12, after Musharraf’s counsel Barrister Salman Safdar informed the court that his client could not travel to Pakistan to attend the hearing due to his medical condition.
During the hearing, the counsel informed the bench that Musharraf was scheduled to arrive in Pakistan on Wednesday (May 2) morning to attend the trial, but could not due to his illness.
“He is ashamed and apologetic for not being able to reach [in time]. He is unable to walk,” the counsel said, adding that he had spent three days with the former president and was “shocked to see that he could barely speak.”
“The doctors have said it is not safe for him to travel in this condition,” Barrister Safdar said. The counsel then asked the court to postpone the hearing until after Ramzan.
“The case against Musharraf dates back to 2007. Despite the cases, he returned to the country in 2013. He was indicted in March 2014. He stayed in the country for two years and three months, but the prosecution failed to prove their case,” the lawyer added.
“In the past two years Musharraf has been hospitalised 40 times,” Barrister Safdar continued and said he could not answer the court’s questions without assistance from his client.
Objecting to the argument, the prosecution contended that the trial could proceed despite Musharraf’s absence.
At this, Justice Tahira Safdar remarked that the former president’s medical reports were also attached along with his plea to adjourn the hearing. “I cannot comment on the authenticity of the medical reports,” the lawyer said.
The court then issued notices to the prosecution and adjourned the hearing.
In line with the Supreme Court’s directive, the trial court is scheduled to record Musharraf’s statement under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code to complete the treason trial.
The Supreme Court last month had observed that the special court should announce a decision after hearing the prosecution as the suspect would lose his right to defend if he failed to appear before the court on May 2.
The government had filed the treason case against Musharraf over the president’s imposition of extra-constitutional emergency in November 2007.