Islamabad: The chief judge in Pervez Musharraf’s treason trial today dramatically stormed out of the courtroom after repeatedly being accused of bias against the former Pakistani military dictator but later clarified that he was not recusing himself from the high-profile case.
It was widely reported that Justice Faisal Arab, the chief of the three-member bench conducting the treason trial against 70-year-old Musharraf, had recused himself from the hearing following an exchange of arguments with the former president’s counsel Anwar Mansoor.
However, the judge later clarified that he had only walked out of today’s proceedings and was not dissociating himself from the case completely.
Earlier, Musharraf’s lawyer Ahmed Raza Kasuri told reporters outside the special court conducting the trial that the judge had disassociated himself from the case.
“Better late than never. I am glad that his (Justice Arab) conscience has finally risen,” Kasuri said, adding, “Faisal Arab said he is distancing himself from the case. There are no shortage of judges in the country.”
Taking a step further, Kasuri had said the non-bailable arrest warrant against Musharraf did not stand any longer.
“The warrant does not stand. The court which issued the warrant no longer exists,” Kasuri said.
However, adjourning the case to March 31, the special court ruled in the afternoon that its earlier order for the government to arrest and produce Musharraf if he refused to appear before it on the said date remained intact.
During today’s hearing, Musharraf’s lawyers said Prosecutor Akram Sheikh should not be allowed to speak on the case until the court announces its decision regarding his appointment.
Justice Arab said the prosecutor will be allowed to speak in court. Musharraf’s advocates then said they were not happy with the court bench and that it was not neutral.
“The Special Court had already issued an order that this bench will try Musharraf and that decision should be respected,” Arab said.
Arab said if the lawyers think the bench was not neutral, he will separate himself from the bench.
He walked out of the courtroom after making the statements and was followed by the other members of the bench, Express News reported.
It is not the first time when defence lawyers have accused the bench and the prosecution team of bias against Musharraf.
They have filed numerous petitions challenging the legality of the bench and accusing the judges of bias.