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Musharraf Will Not Appear Before Tribunal, Says Lawyer

by AFP
Ben Stansall—AFP

Ben Stansall—AFP

Former president remains confined to hospital bed due to an ongoing heart problem.

A lawyer representing Pakistan’s former president Pervez Musharraf said Sunday the retired general would not make a scheduled appearance at his treason trial on Monday because of an ongoing illness.

The 70-year-old was rushed to a military hospital on Thursday after developing what a police official called a “heart problem” while being taken to hear treason charges against him at a special tribunal in Islamabad.

Musharraf’s team says the treason allegations, which relate to his imposition of emergency rule in November 2007, are politically motivated and his lawyers have challenged the authority of the three-judge tribunal.

“Everyone is aware of his sickness. The whole world knows that he is in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and the court also knows that,” said lawyer Ahmed Raza Kasuri. “We just have to make an oral request in the court that since he is not well, his presence should be dispensed with,” Kasuri said.

Musharraf spent his fourth day in the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi on Sunday. The court had adjourned its proceedings Thursday and summoned Musharraf to appear on Monday, but Kasuri said he hoped it would now “exempt his personal presence.”

“The court is not making a special concession to Musharraf. It is according to the law. Human life is over and above justice,” Kasuri added.

Doctors treating Musharraf had sent his medical reports to experts in Britain, Kasuri said on Saturday, to determine his further treatment at home or abroad.

The former president’s sudden health scare was met with skepticism from some observers and feverish media speculation that his departure from Pakistan on medical grounds—possibly to either Saudi Arabia or the U.A.E.—could be imminent. Some analysts believe such a move is necessary to head off a potentially destabilizing clash between the government and the military.

Siddiq-ul-Farooq, a spokesman for the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) denied a deal was in the offing but added the government would follow the court’s ruling. “We neither wish to settle scores nor give any undue concession,” he said. “No foreign pressure will be entertained: let the law take its course. If the court allows Musharraf to travel abroad for medical reasons then we will not try to stop it.”

Aside from the treason allegations, Musharraf also faces trial over the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto, the death of a rebel leader, a deadly raid on the Lal Masjid and the detention of judges.

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