News / Asia

Musharraf's Treason Trial Begins Without his Presence

FILE - A poster of former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is seen hung up near a checkpoint outside his house, where he has been held under house arrest in Islamabad, Pakistan.
FILE - A poster of former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is seen hung up near a checkpoint outside his house, where he has been held under house arrest in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Ayaz Gul
Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf went on trial for treason Wednesday but defense lawyers told the court security threats prevented him from attending the proceedings.
 
Tight security arrangements were in place for Pervez Musharraf’s scheduled appearance before a three-member special court hearing the high treason case.
 
But shortly before the legal proceedings were to open Pakistani police reported defusing a bomb along the road Musharraf’s convoy was to take to the court, preventing him from leaving his residence on Islamabad’s outskirts. Police have found several improvised explosive devices in and around the same area in less than two weeks, forcing judges to put off last week’s inaugural session of the treason trail.
 
However, defense lawyer Ahmed Raza Kasuri said that the court accepted their arguments about security threats facing Musharraf and initiated the legal proceedings.
 
“I said [to the court that] if there is a blast in there, this hall, this is all open. You cannot arrange foolproof security and plug in all the gaps. If something goes wrong my lords will also be a target of that terrorist attack," said Kasuri. "So, there the court realized that what I am talking I am talking sense and they were not adamant that no proceeding can take place without him. Now the proceeding is taking place.”
 
Islamist extremists led by the Pakistani Taliban have repeatedly threatened to kill  Musharraf for his part in Pakistan’s alliance with the United States' fight against terrorism. The former military leader also survived two assassination attempts while in power.
 
Musharraf is unlikely to be indicted in absentia, but a member of the prosecution team, Naseeruddin Khan Nayar, sounded unhappy over the former general’s defiance of the court order. 

“The court has already issued an order requiring Mr. Pervez Musharraf to appear in person to answer the charges. Now it is for the court to procure his attendance in order to see the compliance of its own order,” he said.
 
The 70-year-old former military strongman ruled Pakistan for about a decade after taking power in a 1999 coup. However, the treason charges stem from Musharraf’s move to suspend the constitution and impose emergency rule in 2007 to cling to power in the face of growing nationwide opposition. He faces the death penalty if found guilty.
 
During Wednesday’s proceedings, defense lawyers again dismissed the treason charges as politically motivated. They said they are skeptical about getting a fair trial, citing Musharraf’s disputes with the judiciary while he was in power and under a government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom the former army general ousted in the coup.
 
Musharraf returned to Pakistan in May after spending nearly five years in self-imposed exile. He wanted to take part in parliamentary elections but was barred from doing so. In addition to the treason charge, he also faces several other criminal cases, including murder. He was recently released from months of house arrest.  In recent interviews, Musharraf has claimed the military is upset by his treatment and is still backing him.
 
The treason trial is unprecedented in Pakistan, where the military remains the country’s most powerful institution. However, analysts say that a sustained period of democratic rule since Musharraf stepped down in 2008, and an increasingly independent judiciary, has put the military on the defensive.
 
Some fear that the treason charges against its former chief could upset the military and reignite its confrontation with civilian authorities.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
January 01, 2014 8:55 AM
They are probably retaliating for Zulfikar Ali Bhuto and Benazair Bhuto. How can suspension of constitution, which military leaders normally do, be equivalent to treason?. Just my personal opinion, as I am not affiliated with him or Pakistani politics in any way.
In Response

by: Hasan from: Nigeria
January 01, 2014 2:35 PM
Your input is equal to your output. Musharraf inputs is going to be processed now so it determine the kind of output

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More