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Pakistan begins high treason trial of former President Musharraf

Updated: 2013-12-24 14:10
( Xinhua)

ISLAMABAD - A special court is scheduled to begin trial of Pakistan's former military President, Pervez Musharraf, on Tuesday for abrogating the constitution. The trial is the first of a former military ruler in the country's 66-year history.

Musharraf has been charged for suspending the constitution when he had imposed emergency in November 2007. Legal experts say the charges carry death penalty or life imprisonment.

A three-member special court will begin the trial at the building of national library near the Supreme Court building. The court has summoned Pervez Musharraf to appear before the judges drawn from a panel of judges of the country's five high courts.

Musharraf's lawyers had tried to stop Tuesday's trial on the plea that the special court has no power to try a former army chief and that a military court can try him under the army act.

The Islamabad High Court, however, rejected the petition on Monday that removed all obstacles in the way of Musharraf's trial.

Legal experts are of the view that the government case is strong as Musharraf had himself admitted imposition of the emergency rule at a televised address.

He, however, argues that he had taken the decision after advised by then government that the security of the country had been threatened by some actions of then chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and some other judges of the superior judiciary.

Musharraf had also insisted that then elected prime minister Shaukat Aziz had recommended taking extra-constitutional measures of declaring the emergency.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had announced in June to initiate the high treason case against the former military chief for suspension of the constitution, the decision had evoked mixed reaction as critics were of the view that Pakistan faces several serious challenges and cannot afford such a trial.

Musharraf had taken over in a bloodless coup when he had dismissed then government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999.

The 69-year-old former army chief, currently lives in his farmhouse in Islamabad after he got bails in three high profile cases including the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Musharraf, who had resigned in 2008 and had gone into exile, returned to the country in March this year to take part in parliamentary elections. However, a court disqualified him from standing in the May elections.

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