Islamabad: Pervez Musharraf’s legal woes mounted today as a Pakistani special court conducting his treason trial issued a bailable arrest warrant for the beleaguered former dictator and ordered his production on February 7.
The three-judge bench, formed by the government to try 70-year-old Musharraf on charges of high treason for imposing emergency in 2007, also rejected his plea to be allowed to go abroad for medical treatment.
Musharraf, admitted to a military hospital on January 2, is unlikely to be held in custody because the court said he could get bail by submitting a surety of Rs 25 lakh.
The court’s registrar read out the judgement, which was reserved earlier in the day after defence and prosecution lawyers completed their arguments. The court asked the Islamabad Police chief to implement its order.
Faisal Chaudhry, part of Musharraf’s legal team, said the court had stated it did not have the power to remove the former President’s name from the Interior Ministry’s Exit Control List (ECL) as only a High Court could do this.
Persons included in the ECL are barred from travelling abroad.
Mohammad Ali Saif, a key member of Musharraf’s legal team, told PTI, “It is a normal warrant issued by courts. Musharraf will not be arrested. The Inspector General of Islamabad Police will serve the summons, saying the court has asked him to appear before it on February 7.
“He has the option of submitting a surety of Rs 25 lakh,” he said.
Asked if summons would have to be personally delivered to Musharraf, he said, “That will not be needed. He can submit the surety beforehand. If Musharraf does not appear in the court on February 7, another bailable arrest warrant can be issued. But if a non-bailable warrant is issued, then he will be arrested.”
Chaudhry said Musharraf’s legal team would study the court’s order and challenge it if there is an illegality.
Yesterday, Musharraf’s legal team had asked the special court to remove his name from the ECL so that he could travel abroad. The plea contended the former military ruler wants to visit America for cardiac treatment.
Musharraf was admitted to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi after he developed heart problems while being driven to the special court.
Musharraf was earlier granted bail in four major cases against him, including one over the 2007 assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto.
A medical report submitted to the special court said Musharraf had refused to undergo angiography in Pakistan as he wanted to be treated abroad.
The report further said Musharraf’s health is such that a heart attack could be “life threatening”.
The government’s prosecutor, Akram Sheikh, objected to the findings of the report and argued Musharraf was trying to avoid coming to court. Prosecutors also argued his medical condition was not serious.
Musharraf is facing treason charges for suspending and abrogating the Constitution and imposing an emergency in November 2007.
This is the first time in Pakistan’s history that a former military ruler has been put on trial for treason.
If convicted, he could get life imprisonment or the death penalty.
Meanwhile, Raza Bokhari, a spokesman for Musharraf, said that by ignoring the medical report of a “distinguished military hospital”, the special court has shown “inhumanity and insensitivity” towards the former president.
He said in a statement the court has “demonstrated unprecedented disregard of the medical profession, principles of basic fundamental rights and preservation of life”.
“The norms of justice demand that this suspect treason court suspend its proceedings while superior courts have disposed the objections raised against it,” Bokhari argued.