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Updated on: Saturday, June 01, 2019, 02:34 PM IST

Pak: Chief judge in Musharraf treason trial quits bench

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Islamabad:  In a severe blow to the high-profile treason case against Pervez Musharraf, the chief judge conducting the trial today recused himself from the hearing after repeatedly being accused of bias against the former Pakistani military dictator.

Justice Faisal Arab, the chief of the three-member bench conducting the treason trial against 70-year-old Musharraf recused himself from the hearing.

“Better late than never. I am glad that his (Justice Arab) conscience has finally risen,” Ahmed Raza Kasuri, a lawyer of Musharraf told reporters outside the special court.

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He added, “Faisal Arab said he is distancing himself from the case. There is no shortage of judges in the country”.

The special court comprised of Justice Arab of the Sindh High Court, Justice Tahira Safdar of the Balochistan High Court and Justice Yawar Ali of the Lahore High Court.

It was not immediately clear whether the government would form a new bench after a fresh notification is issued or if one of the two remaining judges would become the chief and continue with the hearing.

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It is also uncertain whether Musharraf would appear before the court on March 31, the day he has been summoned.

The court had also issued a non-bailable warrant that would come into force if Musharraf does not appear before it on his own volition.

“The warrant does not stand. The court which issued the warrant no longer exists,” Kasuri stressed.

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During today’s hearing, another of Musharraf’s lawyers Anwar Mansoor said the court had accepted that his client was facing security risks but had still issued a warrant.

He said that he is not satisfied with the way the case is being processed.

Justice Arab said if the defence lawyers think that the judges are not impartial then he would disassociate himself from the bench.

It is not the first time the defence has accused the bench and the prosecution team of bias. They have filed numerous petitions challenging the legality of the bench and accusing the judges of bias.

Soon after the three-member bench was constituted in November last year, Aasia Ishaque, spokesperson of Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League party said, “We know that the three judges who have been shortlisted are biased against Musharraf and there is no chance of getting a fair trial. It would be like prosecution rather than trial”.

The defence team took the same stand in the hearing.

The ex-military strongman faces treason charges under Article 6 for suspending, subverting and abrogating the Constitution and imposing an emergency in the country in 2007.

The military has ruled Pakistan for about half of its 66-year history and no army ruler or top military commander has ever faced criminal prosecution before Musharraf.

Since Musharraf returned to Pakistan from self-exile in March last year, he has faced prosecution in four major cases, including one for his alleged involvement in the murder of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007 and another for the killing of Baloch nationalist leader Akbar Bugti in 2006.

The high treason case has seen many ups and downs.

Most of the hearing of the case has taken place with the defence and prosecution engaging in a war of words. The war has also been waged on TV talk shows.

Justice Arab had recently forced out Musharraf’s counsel Rana Ijaz from the court after he accused him of being a contract killer.

He was allowed to return days later after the Supreme Court Bar Association President Kamran Murtaza submitted a written apology in the court on behalf of Ijaz.

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Published on: Thursday, March 27, 2014, 12:39 PM IST
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