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Pakistani Prosecutor Warns of House Arrest Again for Musharraf

  • Ayesha Tanzeem

FILE - Pakistan's former President Pervez Musharraf.

FILE - Pakistan's former President Pervez Musharraf.

The chief prosecutor in the high treason trial of Pakistan’s former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf told VOA on Friday that he will likely face house arrest if he is ordered to be detained on treason charges.

The special court formed for the trial has ordered Musharraf to appear on January 16, despite what his lawyers say is an illness that kept him from showing up at a previous hearing.

Prosecutor Muhammad Akram Sheikh said on the VOA TV show Access Point that if the court issues an arrest warrant, he will recommend a house arrest rather than housing him in a jail.

“As the head of the prosecution team, we would propose that his huge bungalow, huge palace, is declared a sub-jail and he is confined in his luxurious palace as a prisoner, only as a token of his custody to be regulated by the court so that the trial may proceed,” he said.

The former general was said to have suffered a heart problem on his way to court in Islamabad last Thursday, and was rushed to the hospital in nearby Rawalpindi. Doctors diagnosed him with coronary artery disease.

After examining a medical report, judges this week ruled that the 70-year-old Musharraf, who is currently in a military hospital, must attend the hearing.

It was the third time Musharraf failed to show up at the hearings. His previous two attempts to reach the court were canceled after officials said explosives were found on the route from his home.

Prosecutors, and some in the media, have speculated that the health scare is an attempt to avoid the charges, which can carry a punishment of death or life imprisonment.

The accusations relate to Musharraf's imposition of emergency rule in 2007, a year before he resigned. He denies wrongdoing, but says he wants to stay in the country to fight the charges.

Some legal experts have suggested that Musharraf’s legal team does not want him to appear in front of this court because they are questioning its legitimacy. They have already filed petitions against the formation and jurisdiction of this special court.

The high treason trial against Musharraf relates to the former ruler’s imposition of emergency rule in 2007, a year before he resigned. He denies wrongdoing, but says he wants to stay in the country to fight the charges.

Musharraf faces several other criminal cases dating to his 1999-2008 rule, including one related to the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007.

Last year the former president spent over seven months under house arrest in his farmhouse in Islamabad. He was granted bail in all cases against him since his return to Pakistan last year.

The ex-general will be the first military ruler tried for treason in the country, which has experienced three military coups in its 66-year history.

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