Former Pakistani leader's trial slides into chaos

Lawyer for former military dictator Musharraf, on trial for treason, ordered removed from court for 'misbehaving'

Former Pakistani leader's trial slides into chaos

World Bulletin/News Desk

A special court trying Pakistan’s former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf for high treason descended into chaos on Tuesday when the court ordered the security to oust a defense lawyer for "misbehaving" and hurling derogatory remarks at the judges.

Musharraf, who is currently being treated at an armed forces cardiac institute in Islamabad after he allegedly suffered a heart attack on January 2, is facing trial for imposing state of emergency in the country 2007 and suspending the constitution. He could face the death penalty if he is convicted.

Defense lawyers argued that the former army chief, who ousted the elected government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless military coup in 1999, faced a serious security threat as "terrorists have entered in the security ranks to kill him." Therefore, the lawyers argued, Musharraf should be granted an exemption from having to appear in court. But the judges dismissed that argument and ordered Musharraf to appear on March 14, the day he is scheduled to be indicted in the treason case.

But the allegations of terrorists in the security ranks were only the beginning. Rana Ejaz, a flamboyant and emotional defense lawyer, said his life had been threatened by "gangsters" -- and alleged that Justice Faisal Arab, the head of a three-member bench, was responsible.

The judges admonished the lawyer to maintain decorum. "This is not the way to argue before the court," Arab said.

But the lawyer refused to stop. At length, the chief judge ordered security to eject Ejaz from court, warning him to either tender an apology or be cited for contempt.

Outside the courthouse, Ejaz continued his assertions.

"I have been receiving phone calls from gangsters who warned me of dire consequences because, according to them, I am misbehaving with Justice Faisal Arab," he told reporters. "I just wanted to explain this to the judges but they did not listen to me."

He accused the three-member bench of showing bias and being politically influenced.

"My heart does not allow me to accept them as judges," he said.

 Musharraf is also facing trial on charges of murdering former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and a veteran nationalist leader, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. He is free on bail in those cases.


Last Mod: 12 Mart 2014, 00:14
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